Campaniform sensilla on cockroach legs provide a good model system for the study of mechanoreceptive sensory transduction. This paper describes the structure of campaniform sensilla on the cockroach tibia as revealed by light- and electron-microscopy. Campaniform sensilla are proprioceptive mechanoreceptors associated with the exoskeleton. The function of each sensillum centers around a single primary sense cell, a large bipolar neuron whose 40 µ-wide cell body is available for electrophysiological investigation with intracellular microelectrodes. Its axon travels to the central nervous system; its dendrite gives rise to a modified cilium which is associated with the cuticle. The tip of the 20 µ-long dendrite contains a basal body, from which arises a 9 + 0 connecting cilium. This cilium passes through a canal in the cuticle, and expands in diameter to become the sensory process, a membrane-limited bundle of 350–1000 parallel microtubules. The tip of the sensory process is firmly attached to a thin cap of exocuticle; mechanical depression of this cap, which probably occurs during walking movements, effectively stimulates the sensillum. The hypothesis is presented that the microtubules of the sensory process play an important role in mechanoelectric transduction in cockroach campaniform sensilla.

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