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On the mode of functioning of the water vascular system of Asterias rubens L.
Binyon, J. (1964). On the mode of functioning of the water vascular system of Asterias rubens L. J. Mar. Biol. Ass. U.K. 44(03): 577.
In: Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. Cambridge University Press/Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom: Cambridge. ISSN 0025-3154; e-ISSN 1469-7769, more
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    Asterias rubens Linnaeus, 1758 [WoRMS]

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  • Binyon, J.

    Experiments reported in a previous paper have indicated a considerable water loss by isolated preparations of the tube feet of Asterias rubens when ligatured in the protracted state. Because of its specialized structure, the podial diameter remains constant throughout the stepping cycle and this simplifies the procedure for measuring the surface area. Measurements of the internal hydrostatic pressure within the tube foot ampulla systems shows a maximum of about 30 cm water to be reached during the protraction phase of the stepping cycle, falling to nearly zero during the resting period. From these data it is possible to calculate a value for the permeability to water of the tube foot membrane, and such a value is compared with other membranes.By measurement of the total area of protracted tube foot membrane exposed by the animal when supporting itself in sea water, it is possible to arrive at a figure for the total water loss by the water vascular system. For a 50 g animal this amounts to some 0·5 ml./h. Experiments involving blocking or extirpating the madreporite, and with isolated arms, make it extremely improbable that this loss could be made good from this route.As alternative mechanisms, a slight hypertonicity due to the presence of excess potassium, or water movement as a direct consequence of the operation of an ion pump are discussed. In view of the hydrostatic pressure within the water vascular system the possibility of its functioning as a physiological kidney is also discussed. A possible alternative function for the madreporite is put forward.

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