Hypobranchial gland

The hypobranchial gland is a glandular structure which is part of the anatomy of many mollusks, including several different families of gastropods, and also many protobranch bivalves.[1] This gland produces mucus as well as biologically active compounds. The cephalopod ink sac is a modified hypobranchial gland.[2]

Anatomy and function


The hypobranchial gland is found in many sea snails, including those in the families Haliotidae, Buccinidae, Mitridae and Costellariidae. It usually presents itself as a thickening of the tissue located in the roof of the animal's mantle cavity.[3] Its morphology, however, is variable between different groups of snails.


In the aculifera the hypobranchial glands are referred to as "mucus tracts" and occupy a posterior position in the body.

Human use

There have been studies on some species within the family Muricidae, because in those species this gland secretes the precursor to the historically important natural dye, Tyrian purple. It is thought that the compounds in hypobranchial secretions may also have interesting pharmacological properties.


  1. Fretter & Graham, 1962, p. 88
  2. Nair, J.R., D. Pillai, S.M. Joseph, P. Gomathi, P.V. Senan & P.M. Sherief (2011). "Cephalopod research and bioactive substances." (PDF). Indian Journal of Geo-Marine Sciences 40(1): 13–27.
  3. Pontarotti, 2010, p.260

Literature cited

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