New paper in Zoology


A histochemical and morphological study of the mucus producing pedal gland system in Latia neritoides (Mollusca; Gastropoda; Hygrophila)

Greistorfer S, von Byern J, Miller I, Meyer-Rochow VB, Farkas R & Steiner G. 2022.
Zoology,Volume 156, 2023, 126067, ISSN 0944-2006, . Link. Published online 22 December 2022


The freshwater gastropod Latia neritoides is endemic to the streams of New Zealand’s North Island. This species has evolved a unique defence system: it exudes a luminescent mucus thought to deter predators. While the bioluminescence itself has been investigated before, the underlying gland system has remained unstudied and relevant information to understand the defence system has been missing till now. For the release of the glowing mucus of L. neritoides two places of origin were assumed: the lateral foot area or the mantel cavity. In this study the focus was on the first suggestion. To gain insight into the defence system, morphological as well as histochemical analyses were performed involving all secretory gland types in the sub-epithelial foot layer. The results were compared with the foot gland system of Neritina sp., a snail living in a comparable habitat, but using a different survival strategy. The gland types of the two gastropods were compared and their mucus types were investigated. Seven subepithelial gland cell types can be distinguished in the foot region of L. neritoides. Neritina sp., in contrast, has six gland cell types of which three laterally located ones are epithelial. Both species show a pedal gland in the anterior foot region. A striking difference between the species are two prominent subepithelial gland cell types (L1l/L2l) in the lateral foot area of L. neritoides, which are missing in Neritina sp. These gland cells are distributed throughout the entire lateral foot area of L. neritoides and make up about 85% of the mucus gland cells in this area. Defence mucus and trail mucus of L. neritoides show different specificities in lectin staining, but are not equally represented in the gland cell types. Yet, based on the huge size and high density of L1l and L2L, we envision a role for these gland types in the defence system.