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Fine structural survey of old cuticle degradation during pre-ecdysis in two European Atlantic crabs
Compère, P.; Thorez, A.; Goffinet, G. (1998). Fine structural survey of old cuticle degradation during pre-ecdysis in two European Atlantic crabs. Tissue Cell 30(1): 41-56.
In: Tissue and cell. Oliver and Boyd: Edinburgh. ISSN 0040-8166; e-ISSN 1532-3072, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Author keywords
    Crab; cuticle; degradation; moult; decapod crustacean

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  • Compère, P., more
  • Thorez, A.
  • Goffinet, G., more

    Light and transmission electron microscopy were used to monitor changes due to the degradation of the old exoskeleton and related events in the sclerites, articular membranes, and gills of two decapod crustaceans (Carcinus maenas and Macropipus puber) during pre-ecdysis. In both sclerites and articular membranes, degradation follows a similar general pattern in both crab species, while the gill cuticle appears unaltered. In early pre-ecdysis (D0), the degradation of the old cuticle starts with the secretion of ecdysial droplets by the epidermis. Apolysis, occurring at stage D1', is re-defined as an event, not necessarily morphologically observable, consisting in the loss of adherence between the epidermis and the old cuticle during early pre-ecdysis of arthropods. At the stage D1?, the moulding of the epidermal cell surface occurs in preparation to the deposition of the new cuticle and causes the opening of the ecdysial cleft. In the principal layer of sclerites, degradation of the chitin-protein microfibres should precede mineral dissolution. In contrast to the other degraded cuticle layers, the membranous layer of sclerites and the innermost endocuticular lamellae of articular membranes are transformed into a digestion-resistant fibrous network resembling the ecdysial membrane of insects.

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