Amphinomid fireworms are notorious for their stinging dorsal bristles (notochaetae), but it is still unclear whether the irritation they cause is merely mechanical or if the notochaetae contain toxins. Furthermore, although fireworm chaetae have always been described as calcareous, their composition has never been investigated to date and strong debates are ongoing on their internal structure. Unravelling the native ultrastructure and composition of fireworm chaetae is the first crucial step to assess whether the hypothesis of toxin vehiculation could be fully considered. We examined for the first time the chemical and mineralogical composition, the ultrastructure and the external structure of the dorsal and ventral chaetae of the large species Hermodice carunculata. All the measurements were carried out on samples prepared without the use of chemical reagents, except for those targeted to investigate if decalcification altered the ultrastructure of the chaetae. A crystal-chemical strategy, combining chemical, diffraction and thermal analyses clearly showed the occurrence of crystalline calcium carbonate and clusters of phosphatic amorphous material. Scanning electron micrographs and energy dispersive X-ray measurements showed that the dorsal chaetae have an extremely shallow insertion point in the body respect to the ventral chaetae, that could facilitate the release of the notochaetae in the environment. Their proximal part is characterized by canals with a hexagonal pattern rich in Ca and P, followed by a large cavity upwards. The harpoon-shaped ends and the central canals of the notochaetae completely disappeared after exposure to EDTA. The notochaetae are hollow and may be able to vehicle toxins. The absence of the honeycomb pattern in the distal part of the notochaetae and their slenderness probably contribute to their brittleness and high sensitivity to breakage on contact. These observations constitute keystone understandings to shed light on fireworm defensive and offensive capacities and their ecological success.

Unravelling the ultrastructure and mineralogical composition of fireworm stinging bristles / Righi, S.; Savioli, M.; Prevedelli, D.; Simonini, R.; Malferrari, D.. - In: ZOOLOGY. - ISSN 0944-2006. - 144:(2021), pp. 125851-125851. [10.1016/j.zool.2020.125851]

Unravelling the ultrastructure and mineralogical composition of fireworm stinging bristles

Righi S.;Savioli M.;Prevedelli D.;Simonini R.;Malferrari D.
2021

Abstract

Amphinomid fireworms are notorious for their stinging dorsal bristles (notochaetae), but it is still unclear whether the irritation they cause is merely mechanical or if the notochaetae contain toxins. Furthermore, although fireworm chaetae have always been described as calcareous, their composition has never been investigated to date and strong debates are ongoing on their internal structure. Unravelling the native ultrastructure and composition of fireworm chaetae is the first crucial step to assess whether the hypothesis of toxin vehiculation could be fully considered. We examined for the first time the chemical and mineralogical composition, the ultrastructure and the external structure of the dorsal and ventral chaetae of the large species Hermodice carunculata. All the measurements were carried out on samples prepared without the use of chemical reagents, except for those targeted to investigate if decalcification altered the ultrastructure of the chaetae. A crystal-chemical strategy, combining chemical, diffraction and thermal analyses clearly showed the occurrence of crystalline calcium carbonate and clusters of phosphatic amorphous material. Scanning electron micrographs and energy dispersive X-ray measurements showed that the dorsal chaetae have an extremely shallow insertion point in the body respect to the ventral chaetae, that could facilitate the release of the notochaetae in the environment. Their proximal part is characterized by canals with a hexagonal pattern rich in Ca and P, followed by a large cavity upwards. The harpoon-shaped ends and the central canals of the notochaetae completely disappeared after exposure to EDTA. The notochaetae are hollow and may be able to vehicle toxins. The absence of the honeycomb pattern in the distal part of the notochaetae and their slenderness probably contribute to their brittleness and high sensitivity to breakage on contact. These observations constitute keystone understandings to shed light on fireworm defensive and offensive capacities and their ecological success.
144
125851
125851
Unravelling the ultrastructure and mineralogical composition of fireworm stinging bristles / Righi, S.; Savioli, M.; Prevedelli, D.; Simonini, R.; Malferrari, D.. - In: ZOOLOGY. - ISSN 0944-2006. - 144:(2021), pp. 125851-125851. [10.1016/j.zool.2020.125851]
Righi, S.; Savioli, M.; Prevedelli, D.; Simonini, R.; Malferrari, D.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11380/1244103
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