The Activities of the Tube Feet of Asterias Rubens L

Smith, J.E.

Journal of Cell Science s 3-88(1): 1-14


ISSN/ISBN: 0021-9533
Accession: 088296686

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1. An account is given of the muscular anatomy of the foot and ampulla of Asterias rubens. An intrinsic musculature of the sucker figured by Cuénot (1891) and Chadwick (1923) is shown not to be present; on the other hand, postural muscles responsible for orientating the podium, levator fibres which 'cup' the sucker, and radial fibres which flatten it are described and figured for the first time. 2. The role of the different muscle systems, the collagen connective tissue, and the fluid of the hydrocoel in protracting and retracting the foot, and in effecting the attachment and detachment of the sucker, is discussed. 3. Evidence is presented, to show that postural pointing of the foot is brought about by the contraction of a ring of muscles encircling the base of the podium. The orienting muscles are functionally, but not anatomically, distinct from the longitudinal fibres of the retractor sheath. 4. The ambulatory step is shown to comprise a series of linked phases of static posture and of movement. Each phase is characterized by the contraction of one member of each of the two opposing pairs of muscles engaged in the development of the step. The two pairs of muscles are (1) the anterior and posterior orienting fibres, and (2) the protractors and retractors of the foot. In its ideal form the step comprises four phases of static posture alternating with four movements. Each movement is ushered in by a reversal of the contraction-relaxation relationships of one of the two pairs of opposing muscle systems. Four such changes are possible and they occur in a sequence that ensures the orderly succession of the four movements of protraction, swing back, retraction, and swing forward, of which movements the idealized stepping cycle is composed. 5. The actual locomotory step departs from the ideal form in two respects: (1) it is liable to become disrupted by a delay in the initiation of the protraction or of the backswing movement, and (2) withdrawal of the podium occurs simultaneously with its re-orientation in the forward direction. It is pointed out that these variations are explicable on the assumption that, in the two series of opposing muscle pairs, the retractor fibres are more readily excited to contract than are their antagonists, and the anterior postural muscles than the posterior postural fibres.