Although the morphology of abalone gills has been studied by some authors, up to date no data are available about the gills of Haliotis tuberculata. This study was carried out, by light and electron microscopy, on 10 wild adult H. tuberculata. Gills lamellae produce an undulated surface increasing the area in contact with water. At the level of skeletal rods, we observed a joint-like structure that allows a checked movement. The left ctenidium is always decidedly larger than the right, probably because of the enormous size of the shell muscle. The cilia permit oxygenated water that leaves the afferent border and is thrust away at the tips of the lamellae by the extremely long cilia. Ciliary movement may take part in sweeping mucous secretions to capture extraneous particles and remove them from the gills. Three types of mucous cells are distributed along the epithelium of the afferent and efferent zones of the gill filament. They seem to play a role in the cleansing of gills in coordination with the muscle contraction and ciliary movement. The presence of microvilli on particular cells reflects their role associated with the absorption of substances from the environment. A haemolymphatic vessel is located in the central zone of the gill filament. The backbone of the haemolymphatic vessel is a chitino-like structure, which gives support to the gills.
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