Copepods rule the earth

Copepod Setae 
Calanoid Antennal Setae

With no place to hide in open water, planktonic copepods have developed a way to evade many predators with a spectacular escape jump. The escape system of copepods is characterized by a sensitive detection system, a rapid response, and powerful muscle output. In each one of these three categories, the calanoid copepods match or exceed the performance reported for other arthropods. The calanoids seem to push the physiological limits in the sensory and neuromotor systems associated with escape.

Physiologically, the antennal mechanosensory setae on the planktonic copepods are characterized by unusually high sensitivity (<10 nm displacements), fast reaction times (<1 msec latency) and phase locking to high frequencies (1 to 2 kHz). This extraordinary collection of responses makes them highly successful in marine and freshwater environments, able to escape predation and to successfully find food and mates. These physiological properties can be expected to arise from specialized cellular structures. Although I have been involved in many research projects over the past (mumbleymumble) years, my decade-long association with copepods still makes them my favorite, if tiny, beasts.

I primarily use transmission electron microscopy (TEM) to look at the cellular and sub-cellular structures involved in sensory perception in these small crustaceans. Although I was initially asked to look for something else, I found myself attracted to beautiful and intriguing pinwheel structures in the antennae. It turned out that these pinwheels were derived from the basal body regions of the mechanosensory dendrites, which was what we were ultimately going to have to look for, anyway. Further research revealed more striking features of the sensory setae, corresponding with their surprisingly sensitive physiological responses. Thus began a long collaboration with Drs. Petra Lenz and Dan Hartline. See their links to Copepod Sensory Systems and Zooplankton Sensory Systems.

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Copyright © 1996-2000 Tina (Weatherby) Carvalho...MicroAngela
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