Histological, histochemical, and ultrastructural investigations on the gastrointestinal system of Antarctic seals: Weddell seal (Leptonychotes weddellii) and crabeater seal (Lobodon carcinophagus).

Abstract

The morphology of the principal sections of the gastrointestinal system of two Antarctic seals with different dietary habits, namely, the Weddell seal (Leptonychotes weddellii) and the crabeater seal (Lobodon carcinophagus), has been investigated. Histologically examined by light microscopy, the tissue layers of the gastrointestinal tract of both seals are almost identical to those observed in most other mammals and no major differences in principle organization could be found between the two seal species. The ultrastructure of the gastric and intestinal epithelial cells has been examined and is also closely comparable to that of these cells in other mammals; however, Paneth cells have not been found in our material. In general, therefore, adaptations of the gastrointestinal tract to the aquatic environment or the diet are not obvious at the morphological levels of organization studied. Histochemical differences are found between the two closely related species; mucins of the surface epithelium in the stomach of Weddell seals are highly sulfated, while those in the crabeater seal are not. Mucous neck cells in Weddell seals contain acid mucosubstances, while those of crabeater seals contain neutral ones. Goblet cells in the small and large intestine in Weddell seals contain both neutral and acid mucosubstances. Both mucin types are detected in the crabeater seal; however, the mucins of the colon in the crabeater seal are more highly sulfated than those in the Weddell seal. The ratio of goblet cells to enterocytes in the large intestine of crabeater seals is higher than that in Weddell seals.

Cite this paper

@article{Schumacher1995HistologicalHA, title={Histological, histochemical, and ultrastructural investigations on the gastrointestinal system of Antarctic seals: Weddell seal (Leptonychotes weddellii) and crabeater seal (Lobodon carcinophagus).}, author={Udo Schumacher and Philippe Klein and Joachim Ploetz and Ulrich Welsch}, journal={Journal of morphology}, year={1995}, volume={225 2}, pages={229-49} }