The young of the aquatic Australian frog, Rheobatrachus silus (Leptodactylidae) develop from eggs to juvenile frogs in the mother's stomach. During brooding the stomach expands greatly and becomes very thin walled. Transmission electron microscopy showed that the distension of the stomach was accompanied by a severe disruption of the smooth muscle layers. Many of the smooth muscle cells seemed to be highly contracted and resembled smooth muscle cells contracted in the absence of an intact connective tissue matrix. Eight days after the birth of the juveniles through the mouth of the female, the stomach muscle cells had returned to a normal appearance. It is suggested that during gastric incubation of the young, smooth muscle cells become at least partially dissociated from their surrounding connective tissue matrix, allowing maximal distension of the stomach wall.
- Electron microscopy
- Smooth muscle