The blue mussel inside: 3D visualization and description of the vascular-related anatomy of Mytilus edulis to unravel hemolymph extraction
The blue mussel Mytilus edulis is an intensely studied bivalve in biomonitoring programs worldwide. The lack of detailed descriptions of hemolymph-withdrawal protocols, particularly with regard to the place from where hemolymph could be perfused from, raises questions regarding the exact composition of aspirated hemolymph and does not exclude the possibility of contamination with other body-fluids. This study demonstrates the use of high resolution X-ray computed tomography and histology combined with 3D-reconstruction using AMIRA-software to visualize some important vascular-related anatomic structures of Mytilus edulis. Based on these images, different hemolymph extraction sites used in bivalve research were visualized and described, leading to new insights into hemolymph collection. Results show that hemolymph withdrawn from the posterior adductor muscle could be extracted from small spaces and fissures between the muscle fibers that are connected to at least one hemolymph supplying artery, more specifically the left posterior gastro-intestinal artery. Furthermore, 3D-reconstructions indicate that puncturing hemolymph from the pericard, anterior aorta, atria and ventricle in a non-invasive way should be possible. Hemolymph withdrawal from the heart is less straightforward and more prone to contamination from the pallial cavity. This study resulted simultaneously in a detailed description and visualization of the vascular-related anatomy of Mytilus edulis.