Journal of Comparative Physiology A

, Volume 205, Issue 1, pp 1–11 | Cite as

The similarity of crawling mechanisms in aquatic and terrestrial gastropods

  • Galina A. PavlovaEmail author


Crawling gastropods are unique models for studying the functioning of smooth muscles and ciliated epithelia, since they cover the foot sole and are involved in locomotion, allowing for direct investigation. Two types of crawling are known: creeping by muscular waves in terrestrial gastropods such as Helix and сiliary gliding in aquatic gastropods such as Lymnaea. It was found that the smooth muscles that underlie the ciliated epithelium in Lymnaea are involved in gliding and contribute significantly to fast crawling. Thus, the locomotor apparatus is fundamentally the same in both snails and the difference between crawling reflects an adaptation to a habitat. The control of crawling speed is also the same. Tonic contraction, relaxation, and rhythmic contractions are involved in this control. During a locomotor episode, the sole length and crawling speed spontaneously change and directly correlate with each other via the contraction force of the muscle cells in the locomotory waves. Dopamine, unlike ergometrine, decreases the sole length and crawling speed. Serotonin stimulates, increases crawling and determines the number of muscle cells involved in the locomotory waves for each locomotor episode. This control (taking into account heterogeneity) apparently might exist in any other phasic smooth muscle, including vertebrates.


Smooth muscles Locomotion Mollusks Lymnaea Helix 



I am grateful to the Russian Foundation for Basic Research, which supported my study for years, including grant #13-04-01052. I thank all my colleagues who participated in this research and two anonymous reviewers who gave me useful recommendations and helped to improve the manuscript. The experiments complied with the ‘Rules of laboratory practice’ (RLP) in the Russian Federation no. 267 revised in 2003 from the Ministry of Health, with the current laws in Moscow State University, and they were also approved by the Ethics Committee of the A. N. Belozersky Institute.


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.A. N. Belozersky Institute of Physico-Chemical BiologyMoscow State UniversityMoscowRussia

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