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Instantaneous adhesion of Cuvierian tubules in the sea cucumber Holothuria forskali
Demeuldre, M.; Ngo, T.C.; Hennebert, E.; Wattiez, R.; Leclère, P.; Flammang, P. (2014). Instantaneous adhesion of Cuvierian tubules in the sea cucumber Holothuria forskali. Biointerphases 9(2).
In: Biointerphases. American Institute of Physics: New York. ISSN 1934-8630, more
Peer reviewed article  

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    Holothuria (Panningothuria) forskali Delle Chiaje, 1823 [WoRMS]; Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Demeuldre, M., more
  • Ngo, T.C.
  • Hennebert, E., more

    The peculiar Cuvierian tubules of sea cucumbers function as a defense mechanism. They thwart attacks by creating a sticky network composed of elongated tubules within which the potential predator is entangled in a matter of seconds and thus immobilized. Cuvierian tubules are typical instantaneous adhesive organs in which tissue integrity is destroyed during the release of the adhesive secretion. However, very little information is available about this adhesion process. The adhesive epithelium—the mesothelium—and the sticky material it produces were studied in the species Holothuria forskali using different microscopy techniques (light microscopy, transmission electron microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, and atomic force microscopy). The mesothelium consists of two cell types—peritoneocytes and granular cells—organized in superimposed layers. In tubules before expulsion, peritoneocytes form an outer protective cell layer preventing adhesion when not needed. After expulsion, the elongation process removes this protective layer and allows granular cells to unfold and to become exposed at the tubule surface. At this stage, Cuvierian tubules are still not sticky. Upon contact with a surface, however, granular cells release their granule contents. Once released, this material changes in aspect, swells, and spreads readily on any type of substrate where it forms a thin homogeneous layer. After tubule peeling, this layer remains on the surface but is often contaminated with collagen fibers. Atomic force microscopy demonstrated the adhesive layer to be made up of globular nanostructures measuring about 70?nm in diameter and to be more adhesive than the collagen fibers left on it. The morphological organization of Cuvierian tubules therefore allows contact-dependent deposition of an adhesive material presenting a high affinity for various surfaces. It is certainly an adaptive advantage for a defense organ to be able to entangle different types of predators.

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