A light and electron microscopic study was made of the structure of the gill arch, filament and secondary lamella of Salmo gairdneri R. Blood pathways through the gill were traced from serial histological sections, and from the examination of ink perfused tissue and perspex casts formed following resin injection of the circulatory system. The epithelium covering the gill consists of unspecialized, dark, chloride and mucous cells. The distribution of specialized cells appears to be related to gill function. The basement membrane underlying the epithelium consists of three layers, the inner collagen layer being continuous with the connective tissue core of the gills. Blood supply to the secondary lamellar respiratory surface is via branchial, filament and secondary lamellar arteries. Blood spaces of the secondary lamellae are delimited by pillar cells containing what appears to be contractile material. The marginal channel of each lamella is bounded distally by cells of endothelial origin. A network of lymph spaces within the filaments connects with efferent branchial arteries. Nutritionary capillaries within the filaments connect with afferent branchial arteries. No shunts between afferent and efferent filament arteries were found. Data from this study and previous physiological and histopathological studies suggest a mechanism for the control of blood flow to suit the respiratory requirements of the fish. This mechanism involves a system of recruitment of additional respiratory units and changes in overall blood flow patterns.
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