Motility of the Limulus blood cell. Academic Article uri icon


  • The sole cell type (the amoebocyte) found in the coelomic fluid of the horseshoe crab, Limulus polyphemus can be stimulated to become motile by extravasation or trauma. Motility was studied using time-lapse microcinematography and direct microscopic examination of cells in tissue culture and in gill leaflets isolated from young animals. Phase-contrast and Nomarski differential-interference contrast optics were employed. Both in culture and in the gills, motile cells showed 2 interconvertible morphological types: the contracted cell, which was compact and rounded and had a relatively small area of contact with the substratum, and a flattened from with a larger area of contact. In both morphological types, motility involved the protrusion of hyaline pseudopods followed by flow of granular endoplasm forward in the pseudoplod. Cellular motility in vivo (in the gill leaflet) was morphologically identical to that displayed in tissue culture. In culture, motility was unaffected by the nature of the substratum: cells were indistinguishable on fluid (paraffin oil) or solid (glass) substrata or on hydrophobic (paraffin oil, siliconized glass) or hydrophilic (clean glass) surfaces. Cells migrated and spread on agar surfaces. Cell motility was unaffected by high concentrations (100 micrograms/ml) of the microtubule-depolymerizing agent colcemid and was abolished by cytochalasin B at 1 microgram/ml.

publication date

  • June 1979