The morphology of the lung of a tropical terrestrial slug Trichotoxon copleyi (Mollusca: Gastropoda: Pulmonata): A scanning and transmission electron microscopic study



The lung of the slug Trichotoxon copleyi is located in the body mantle where it opens to the outside through an adjustable pneumostome situated on the right side. The respiratory surface of the lung is profusely vascularized by anastomosing ‘blood’ capillaries. A thick muscular layer surrounds the gas exchange surface and may be involved in the efficient rhythmic ventilatory contraction of the lung. Externally an epithelial layer made up of large secretory cells with numerous microvilli overlies the muscular layer. The surface of the lung is made up of squamous cells with an abundance of microvilli and clustered goblet cells interspersed occasionally. The squamous cells cover the notably thin air–blood barrier which is extremely attenuated, particularly in some areas. The goblet cells contain a centrally located nucleus and numerous intracytoplasmic granules, presumably precursors of the mucus that covers the surface of the mantle cavity.

All the essential morphological prerequisites for efficient gas exchange such as an extensive surface and a thin blood–gas barrier were observed in the lung of Trichotoxon. It was concluded that this molluscan lung is structurally and functionally a true lung in all respects.