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1 September 2013 Examination of Digestive Enzyme Distribution in Gut Tract and Functions of Intestinal Caecum, in Megascolecid Earthworms (Oligochaeta: Megascolecidae) in Japan
Mana Nozaki, Katsutoshi Ito, Chiemi Miura, Takeshi Miura
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Abstract

Earthworms ingest various materials in addition to food items, such as soil particles. Most earthworms of the family Megascolecidae, a dominant family in Japan, have intestinal caeca connected directly to the intestinal tract. The function of the caeca has not been demonstrated, although it is thought to be associated with digestion. We investigated the activity of the digestive enzymes amylase, phosphatase, cellulase, and protease in different regions of the gut, including the intestinal caeca, in three species of megascolecid earthworms, Pheretima heteropoda, Pheretima hilgendorfi, and Pheretima sieboldi. Activities of several enzymes were high in the intestinal caeca; in particular, protease activity was higher in the caeca than that in the anterior gut, foregut, midgut, and hindgut in all three species. Moreover, the ratio of enzyme activities in the intestinal caeca to whole-gut tended to be higher in manicate intestinal caeca than in simple intestinal caeca. These results suggest that the digestive system of earthworms relies on the intestinal caeca.

© 2013 Zoological Society of Japan
Mana Nozaki, Katsutoshi Ito, Chiemi Miura, and Takeshi Miura "Examination of Digestive Enzyme Distribution in Gut Tract and Functions of Intestinal Caecum, in Megascolecid Earthworms (Oligochaeta: Megascolecidae) in Japan," Zoological Science 30(9), 710-715, (1 September 2013). https://doi.org/10.2108/zsj.30.710
Received: 23 October 2012; Accepted: 1 April 2013; Published: 1 September 2013
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