Ultrastructure of the ampullae of Lorenzini of Aptychotrema rostrata (Rhinobatidae)

Barbara E. Wueringer, Ian R. Tibbetts, Darryl L. Whitehead

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Small epidermal pores of the electrosensory ampullae of Lorenzini located both ventrally and dorsally on the disk of Aptychotrema rostrata (Shaw and Nodder, 1794) open to jelly-filled canals, the distal end of which widens forming an ampulla that contains 6 ± 0.7 alveolar bulbs (n = 13). The sensory epithelium is restricted to the alveolar bulbs and consists of receptor cells and supportive cells. The receptor cells are ellipsoid and their apical surfaces are exposed to the alveolar lumen with each bearing a single central kinocilium. Presynaptic bodies occur in the basal region of the receptor cell immediately proximal to the synaptic terminals. The supportive cells that surround receptor cells vary in shape. Microvilli originate from their apical surface and extend into the alveolar lumen. Tight junctions and desmosomes connect the supportive cells with adjacent supportive and receptor cells in the apical region. The canal wall consists of two cell layers, of which the luminal cells are squamous and interconnect via desmosomes and tight junctions, whereas the cells of the deeper layer are heavily interdigitated, presumably mechanically strengthening the canal wall. Columnar epithelial cells form folds that separate adjacent alveoli. The same cells separate the ampulla and canal wall. An afferent sensory nerve composed of up to nine myelinated nerve axons is surrounded by several layers of collagen fibers and extends from the ampulla. Each single afferent neuron can make contacts with multiple receptor cells. The ultrastructural characteristics of the ampullae of Lorenzini in Aptychotrema rostrata are very similar to those of other elasmobranch species that use electroreception for foraging.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-52
Number of pages8
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • ampullae of Lorenzini
  • alveolar bulbs
  • receptor cell
  • Aptychotrema rostrata
  • electroreception


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