The marine gastropod Onchidium has a multiple photoreceptive system consisting of stalk eyes, dorsal eyes, photosensitive neurons, and extraocular dermal photoreceptor cells (DPCs). The DPCs were widespread all over the dorsal mantle and distributed singly or in groups in the dermis, but were not discernible by the naked eye. The DPC was oval in shape and large in size, and characterized by features specific to gastropod photoreceptor cells such as massive microvilli, photic vesicles, and a depolarized response. DPC-17, one of a group of 19 DPCs, was examined on serial semi-thin sections of 0.4 µm in thickness with a high-voltage transmission electron microscope (HVTEM). The axon emerged specifically from the lateral side between the distal microvillous portion and proximal cytoplasm, travelled through the connective tissue, and joined a small nerve bundle (NB). Two types of supportive cells were found along the length of the axon. The first type was a covering cell (CC) surrounding the surface of the DPC body and continuing onward to the axon sheath. DPC-17 was covered by 11 CCs, while the larger DPC-6 was only covered by four CCs. The second type was a sheath cell (ShC) wrapping the surface of the small NB where the axon of the DPC merged with undefined nerve fibers. The axon extending directly from DPC-17 was reconstructed three-dimensionally (3D) using DeltaViewer software. The 3D-reconstructed image of the sheath of the axon and the CC demonstrated the continuity between the two structures, especially when the image was rotated using DeltaViewer.
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Vol. 31 • No. 12