Ultrastructure of the taste disc in the red-bellied toad Bombina orientalis (Discoglossidae, Salientia)
Abstract The taste disc of the red-bellied toad Bombina orientalis (Discoglossidae) has been investigated by light and electron microscopy and compared with that of Rana pipiens (Ranidae). Unlike the frog, B. orientalis possesses a disc-shaped tongue that cannot be ejected for capture of prey. The taste discs are located on the top of fungiform papillae. They are smaller than those in Ranidae, and are not surrounded by a ring of ciliated cells. Ultrastructurally, five types of cells can be identified (mucus cells, wing cells, sensory cells, and both Merkel cell-like basal cells and undifferentiated basal cells). Mucus cells are the main secretory cells of the taste disc and occupy most of the surface area. Their basal processes do not synapse on nerve fibers. Wing cells have sheet-like apical processes and envelop the mucus cells. They contain lysosomes and multivesicular bodies. Two types of sensory cells reach the surface of the taste disc; apically, they are distinguished by either a brush-like arrangement of microvilli or a rod-like protrusion. They are invaginated into lateral folds of mucus cells and wing cells. In contrast to the situation in R. pipiens , sensory cells of B. orientalis do not contain dark secretory granules in the perinuclear region. Synaptic connections occur between sensory cells (presynaptic sites) and nerve fibers. Merkel cell-like basal cells do not synapse onto sensory cells, but synapse-like connections exist between Merkel cell-like basal cells (presynaptic site) and nerve fibers.
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