DAO 49:227-234 (2002)  -  doi:10.3354/dao049227

Morphological and cytoenzymatic characterization of haemocytes of the venus clam Chamelea gallina

Daniela M. Pampanin*, M. Gabriella Marin, Loriano Ballarin

Department of Biology, University of Padova, Via U. Bassi 58/B, 35121 Padova, Italy

ABSTRACT: A morphological and enzymatic characterization of Chamelea gallina haemocytes was carried out as a prerequisite for further studies on venus clam immunobiology. Two main types of circulating haemocytes were identified (1) hyalinocytes (79.2%), agranular cells with a central nucleus surrounded by a little cytoplasm, and (2) granulocytes (16.5%), smaller granular cells with smaller nuclei. Small cells with a strongly basophilic nucleus and a thin layer of peripheral cytoplasm, probably undifferentiated blast cells (4.3%), were also observed. Both granulocytes and hyalinocytes can assume a spreading or round morphology. The enzymatic activities of haemocytes were also investigated. Some of the granulocytes and hyalinocytes were positive for hydrolytic enzymes, suggesting a role for these cells in phagocytosis; no oxidative enzymes were detected in C. gallina haemocytes. Granulocytes and hyalinocytes can easily adhere to the substratum and exhibit a low phagocytosis activity towards foreign particles (6.3%), whereas the fraction of cells containing ingested material significantly increased after pre-incubation of test particles with cell-free haemolymph, which suggests the presence of opsonin(s) in the haemolymph.

KEY WORDS: Haemocytes · Chamelea gallina · Cytoenzymology · Phagocytosis

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