Development of the statocyst in the freshwater snail Biomphalaria glabrata (Pulmonata, Basommatophora)

Wenyuan Gao, Michael Wiederhold, Robert Hejl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The development of the statocyst of the freshwater snail Biomphalaria glabrata has been examined from embryo to adult. Special emphasis was put on the growth of the statoconia in the statocysts. In the statocysts of embryonic snails (90-120 h after oviposition) there is not a single statolith but an average of 40-50 statoconia per statocyst. The number of statoconia increases to 385-400 when the snails reach a shell diameter of 4 mm and remains relatively constant thereafter, irrespective of shell size. Small statoconia are found in supporting cells, which suggests that the statoconia are produced within these cells. The average diameter of statoconia and the total mass of statoconia increase with increasing shell diameter. The average number of large statoconia (diameter > 7 μm) per statocyst continues to increase from 2 to 10 mm animals while the number of small ones (diameter < 4 μm) initially rises and then decreases after 4 mm. These results demonstrate continuous growth of the statoconia in the cyst lumen of Biomphalaria. The single statoconia vibrate in a regular pattern in vivo, indicating beating of the statocyst cilia. The statoconia sink under the influence of gravity to load and stimulate receptor cells which are at the bottom. The length of cilia and the size of statocyst gradually increase as the animal grows. However, the increase in the volume of the statocyst is relatively small compared with the increase in body weight during normal development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)125-134
Number of pages10
JournalHearing Research
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jul 1997


  • Biomphalaria glabrata
  • Development
  • Statoconia
  • Statocyst

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems


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