The dynamics of exoskeletal—Epidermal structure during molt in juvenile lobster by electron microscopy and electron spectroscopic imaging
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The exoskeletal-epidermal complex of juvenile lobsters at various stages throughout the molt cycle was examined by conventional electron microscopy, freeze-etch replicas, and electron spectroscopic imaging. This latter technique which enables the direct localization of atomic elements superimposed over morphological fine structure has been applied to this tissue complex to determine the spatial distributions and interrelationships of calcium, phosphorus, and sulphur. Chitin microfibril assembly is visualized in thin sections as occurring at the surface of apical membrane plaques which in freeze-etch replicas invariably possess a rich distribution of intramembrane particles on both P and E faces. In early stages of mineralization the exo- and endocuticular zones of the exoskeleton possess a dense Ca-containing lamellar repeat. These bands are unrelated to the helicoidal arrangement of chitin microfibrils. At later stages of development mineral deposits occur within the exocuticle and advance through to the endocuticle. These deposits align with chitin microfibrils and exhibit a helicoidal pattern. Morphological and chemical alterations associated with mineralization and demineralization of the exoskeleton are discussed.
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