, Volume 112, Issue 4, pp 217–225

Functional morphology of the mammiliform penial glands ofLittorina saxatilis (Gastropoda)


  • John A. Buckland-Nicks
    • Department of BiologySt. Francis Xavier University
  • G. Terrence Worthen
    • Department of BiologySt. Francis Xavier University

DOI: 10.1007/BF01632819

Cite this article as:
Buckland-Nicks, J.A. & Worthen, G.T. Zoomorphology (1992) 112: 217. doi:10.1007/BF01632819


The functional morphology of the mammiliform penial glands ofLittorina saxatilis has been investigated with both light and electron microscopy. These penial glands line the ventral edge of the penis and orient with the female mantle during copulation. Secretions are released from the penial glands to this interface where they probably function in adhesion. The penial gland secretions comprise heterogeneous granules as well as apocrine and mucous secretions. The heterogeneous granules are produced in separate multicellular glands arranged in a series of lobes that lie outside a thick smooth muscle layer enclosing the lumen. Each glandular lobe is surrounded by a thin layer of smooth muscle. Secretions are transported in individual cellular processes that pass through the thick smooth muscle layer and empty into the lumen. Surrounding the lumen is an epithelium containing apocrine secretory cells as well as occasional goblet-type, mucous cells. The combined action of the muscles forces secretions out of the lumen through the penial papilla, onto the external surface of the mammiliform penial gland. Longitudinal muscles extend into the penial papilla enabling its protrusion or retraction. Retraction of the penial papilla following secretion release is thought to create negative pressure beneath the penial gland producing suction adhesion. The visco-elastic properties of the penial gland secretion are qualitatively different from foot mucus and may represent specialization to an adhesive function.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1992