Micromorphological study of the upper digestive tract of the Argentine tegu (Salvator merianae).
Argentine black and white tegus (Salvator merianae) are omnivorous lizards native to southeastern Brazil, Uruguay, eastern Paraguay and northern Argentina, and are invasive species in Florida and Georgia, USA. They are opportunistic feeders, which is what allow them to have such a diverse variety of foods. Tegus raised a particular concern due to their adaptive capability to different environments. Our goal was to provide a micromorphology baseline of oesophagus and stomach and correlate findings with their dietary and invasive capabilities. Four Argentine black and white tegus were used for this study. We collected and processed specimens from oesophagus and stomach using standard histological techniques and stained tissue sections using Haematoxylin and Eosin (H&E), Periodic Acid Schiff (PAS), Alcian Blue (AB) and Verhoef's elastic stains. The oesophagus was lined with ciliated pseudostratified columnar epithelium (PSCE) with goblet cells. Gut-associated lymphoid tissues (GALT) were present occasionally in the oesophagus and more frequently in the stomach. Tunica muscularis (Tm) of the oesophageal-gastric junction had distinct smooth muscle which could function as a sphincter. The mucosa of the stomach was lined with simple columnar epithelium (SC). The glands had neck and dark oxyntico-peptic cells. The pyloric sphincter had more GALT and mucus cells than other regions. The Tm outer layer is thinner than the inner. Presence of large number of goblet cells would support faster transit of the bolus. The short digestive tract and the histological features observed are consistent with the ability of tegus consumption of large amount of food.