Flaming cell: structure and operation

The Flaming cell Is a hollow cell located in the excretory system of certain invertebrate animals, such as flatworms and rotifers. It is characterized by having a set of cilia that move quickly and serve to propel the waste material to the excretory channels (Fogiel, 2013).

This type of cells called flamigeras are specialized excretory cells found in any type of freshwater invertebrate. These invertebrates are known to be the least evolved animals in having an excretory apparatus.

Flaming cell

The excretory system of these invertebrate animals has a function similar to that of the kidneys, thanks to the action of protonefridias or clusters of flaming cells, which are responsible for removing the waste materials located along the digestive tract of them Ursadhip, 2011).

Each flaming cell has a nucleated cell body with a cup-shaped projection and flagella covering the inner surface of the cup. The movement of these flagella is similar to the blink of a flame, for this reason these types of cells are denominated flamígeras.

The cup inside the flaming cell is attached to a cellular tube, whose inner surface is also covered with cilia that help to move liquids inside. The end of this cell tube is located on the outside of the body of the invertebrates and opens through a nefropore that allows the excretion of waste.

The main function of the flaming cells is to regulate the osmotic pressure inside the invertebrates, maintaining an ionic balance and controlled water levels.

Microvilli or cilia located in the cell tube of the flaming cell can be used to reabsorb or filter out some ions and water if necessary (Boundless, 2017).

Flatworms or flatworms

Flaming cell: structure and operation

Planeworms or flatworms are multicellular organisms that evolved to have internal organs that could regulate the metabolic needs of their bodies.

Some organs evolved individually to be able to exert the work of the excretory system. They are similar to annelids, although their internal structure is somewhat simpler than that of their invertebrate relatives (Buchsbaum, Buchsbaum, Pearse, & Pearse, 1987).

Flat worms are organisms that live in fresh water and have an excretory system composed of two tubules connected to a highly branched duct system. The cells located inside these tubules are known as flaming cells.

The process of excretion of residues in flatworms or flatworms occurs by means of the flaming cells or protonefridias (set of flaming cells) located inside the main tubules.

This process occurs when clusters of cilia located in the flaming cells (whose movement is fluttering like a flame) push the waste matter through the tubules and out of the body by means of excretory pores that open on the surface Of the body (KV Galaktionov, 2003).

The metabolic wastes produced by flatworms are generally excreted in the form of a solution based on NH3 (ammonia) which propagates along the general surface of the body of the worm. The flat shape of the flatworms helps to make this propagation process more efficient and done in a longitudinal way.

Flatworms not only release the excrement of their body with the help of the flaming cells. These cells are also used to remove excess water in the intestines of the bodies of flat worms, through a filtration process.


The typical structure of a flaming cell is elongated and mononuclear. Its shape evolved in such a way that it allowed to carry out different branched vital processes in the surrounding tissues of the cell.

In the center of the flaming cell is a prominent and bulbous cavity easily observable. This cavity is reduced forming a thin capillary duct. The cytoplasm of the cell is located on the periphery of the cell, containing a redondon and oval nucleus (Lewin, 2007).

The widest end of the lumen cells encloses a cluster of long cilia or flagella. This cluster of cilia exerts an undulating movement that simulates the flame of a candle.

The structure of the phlegm cells is attached to the excretory tubules longitudinally. When several flamboyant cells are attached, this cluster is called protonefridia.


The process of functioning of the flaming cells is based on the processes of filtration and reabsorption. The water located in intercellular spaces is collected by the extension of the plasmalema (the barrier that limits the inner content of the cell).

Subsequently, the water collected is filtered through thin walls in the form of columns. Once the water is filtered and free of protein particles, it is displaced to the neck of the cell cavity with the help of the cilia within it (Sandhu, 2005).

The constant waving movement of the cilia or flagella into the cavity of the flaming cell produces sufficient negative pressure to filter the fluids. In this way, fluids can pass through the longitudinal and capillary ducts and are discharged with the help of nefropores.

During the filtration and movement of fluids, the ions inside the tubules are reabsorbed or secreted. The groups of flaming cells or protonefridias play an important role in the regulation of ionic and water levels within flatworms or flatworms.

Earthworms (annelids) have a slightly more evolved excretory system than flatworms. This system is composed of two pairs of nephri- dias at each end of the body of the worm, operating similarly to the flaming cells in that they also have a tubular duct with cilia or flagella therein.

Excretion in the case of earthworms occurs through nephridiopores, which are pores more evolved than those used by flaming cells with the ability to reabsorb substances through capillary networks prior to excretion.


  1. (2017). Boundless . Retrieved from Flame Cells of Planaria and Nephridia of Worms: boundless.com
  2. Buchsbaum, R., Buchsbaum, M., Pearse, J., & Pearse, &. V. (1987). Animals Without Backbones. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  3. Fogiel, M. (2013). Biology Problem Solver. New Jersey: Research & Education Association Editors.
  4. V. Galaktionov, A. D. (2003). The Biology and Evolution of Trematodes: An Essay on the Biology,. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publisher.
  5. Lewin, B. (2007). Mississauga: Jones and Bartlett.
  6. Sandhu, G. (2005). Textbook of Invertebrate Zoology, Volume 1. Campus Books International.
  7. (2011, 9 4). Make Easy Zoology . Retrieved from Flame cell in Platyhelminthes: ursadhip.blogspot.com.co

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