A mechanism of adaptation to hypergravity in the statocyst of Aplysia californica

H. A. Pedrozo, Zvi Schwartz, M. Luther, David D Dean, B. D. Boyan, M. L. Wiederhold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


The gravity-sensing organ of Aplysia californica consists of bilaterally paired statocysts containing statoconia, which are granules composed of calcium carbonate crystals in an organic matrix. In early embryonic development, Aplysia contain a single granule called a statolith, and as the animal matures, statoconia production takes place. The objective of this study was to determine the effect of hypergravity on statoconia production and homeostasis and explore a possible physiologic mechanism for regulating this process. Embryonic Aplysia were exposed to normogravity or 3 x g or 5.7 x g and each day samples were analyzed for changes in statocyst, statolith, and body dimensions until they hatched. In addition, early metamorphosed Aplysia (developmental stages 7-10) were exposed to hypergravity (2 x g) for 3 weeks, and statoconia number and statocyst and statoconia volumes were determined. We also determined the effects of hypergravity on statoconia production and homeostasis in statocysts isolated from developmental stage 10 Aplysia. Since prior studies demonstrated that urease was important in the regulation of statocyst pH and statoconia formation, we also evaluated the effect of hypergravity on urease activity. The results show that hypergravity decreased statolith and body diameter in embryonic Aplysia in a magnitude-dependent fashion. In early metamorphosed Aplysia, hypergravity decreased statoconia number and volume. Similarly, there was an inhibition of statoconia production and a decrease in statoconia volume in isolated statocysts exposed to hypergravity in culture. Urease activity in statocysts decreased after exposure to hypergravity and was correlated with the decrease in statoconia production observed. In short, there was a decrease in statoconia production with exposure to hypergravity both in vivo and in vitro and a decrease in urease activity. It is concluded that exposure to hypergravity down-regulates urease activity, resulting in a significant decrease in the formation of statoconia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-62
Number of pages12
JournalHearing Research
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Dec 1 1996


  • Aplysia californica
  • Calcification
  • Gravity
  • Hypergravity
  • Organ

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems


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