The antennal flagellum of the crayfish Cherax destructor is very flexible, tapered and is almost as long as the body in mature animals. It consists of a series of short segments, oval in cross-section, that take the form of flattened rings at the base and slender tubes at the tip. There are no muscles in the flagellum.
The flagellum's mechanical resistance to being bent is not the same in all directions. It is most easily bent dorsally and least easily bent medially, when held stretched out horizontally in front of the animal. The resistance to bending is 10 times less than that of Astacus.
The individual segments of the flagellum form curved articulating surfaces that may assist in reducing torsional movement of the flagellum when it is bent and, together with the tapered form, provide the flagellum with unique mechanical properties.
Four main types of hairs are found on the flagellum. They are distributed in a specific manner, and total about 7000 hairs on the flagellum of a mature animal. Cross-sections through the sensory nerve reveal only about 2000 axons. Methylene blue applied to fresh preparations stains dendrites to all smooth hairs but never to procumbent feathered hairs.
Physiological recordings from the sensory axons of the flagellar nerve allowed the characterization of the sensory hair response to displacement. Recordings were also made from slowly adapting receptors, sensitive to bending the flagellum in particular directions, but not related to mechanoreceptive hairs.
Intracellular recordings from identified extensor and flexor motoneurones revealed the ordered projection of the inputs from the receptor hairs, and also provided a model that correlates specific receptor inputs with particular antennal reflexes, and links the unique mechanical properties of the flagellum with the detection of the distance of near objects.
Physical Properties, Sensory Receptors and Tactile Reflexes of the Antenna of the Australian Freshwater Crayfish Cherax Destructor
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DAVID C. SANDEMAN; Physical Properties, Sensory Receptors and Tactile Reflexes of the Antenna of the Australian Freshwater Crayfish Cherax Destructor. J Exp Biol 1 January 1989; 141 (1): 197–217. doi: https://doi.org/10.1242/jeb.141.1.197
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