The microanatomy of the rectal salt gland of the Port Jackson shark, Heterodontus portusjacksoni (Meyer) (Heterodontidae): Suggestions for a counter-current exchange system

DR Newbound, James O'Shea

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A comprehensive anatomical study was undertaken to examine the rectal salt gland in the Port Jackson shark, Heterodontus portusjacksoni, a shark known to invade estuarine environments. The microstructure and vascular organisation of the rectal salt gland was investigated using histological observation and scanning electron microscopy of vascular corrosion casts. Cellular specialisation was observed in the lining of the central lumen of this gland, This may indicate that there is some modification of the principal product of the gland prior to its secretion. The rectal salt gland has a complex structure related to its function. Contrary to previous reports, the flow in secretory tubules is in the opposite direction to that of the capillaries and thus constitutes a counter-current arrangement. The similarity in the organisation of the counter-current and lobulate arrangement of salt-secreting glands through phylogenetically diverse organisms, such as sharks and birds, suggests that this arrangement is important in achieving efficient salt secretion. Copyright (C) 2001 S.KargerAG, Basel.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-175
JournalCells Tissues Organs
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2001


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