Mannitol oxidase and polyol dehydrogenases in the digestive gland of gastropods: Correlations with phylogeny and diet

PLoS One. 2018 Mar 12;13(3):e0193078. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0193078. eCollection 2018.


Mannitol oxidase and polyol dehydrogenases are enzymes that convert polyalcohols into sugars. Mannitol oxidase was previously investigated in terrestrial snails and slugs, being also present in a few aquatic gastropods. However, the overall distribution of this enzyme in the Gastropoda was not known. Polyol dehydrogenases are also poorly studied in gastropods and other mollusks. In this study, polyalcohol oxidase and dehydrogenase activities were assayed in the digestive gland of 26 species of gastropods, representing the clades Patellogastropoda, Neritimorpha, Vetigastropoda, Caenogastropoda and Heterobranchia. Marine, freshwater and terrestrial species, including herbivores and carnivores were analyzed. Ultrastructural observations were undertake in species possessing mannitol oxidase, in order to investigate the correlation between this enzyme and the presence of tubular structures known to be associated with it. Mannitol oxidase activity was detected in the digestive gland of herbivores from the clades Caenogastropoda and Heterobranchia, but not in any carnivores or in herbivores from the clades Patellogastropoda, Neritimorpha and Vetigastropoda. In most of the species used in this study, dehydrogenase activities were detected using both D-mannitol and D-sorbitol as substrates. Nevertheless, in some carnivores these activities were not detected with both polyalcohols. Ultrastructural observations revealed tubular structures in digestive gland cells of some species having mannitol oxidase activity, but they were not observed in others. Based on our results, we suggest that mannitol oxidase first occurred in a herbivorous or omnivorous ancestor of Apogastropoda, the clade formed by caenogastropods and heterobranchs, being subsequently lost in those species that shifted towards a carnivorous diet.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Oxidoreductases / analysis
  • Alcohol Oxidoreductases / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Digestion
  • Gastropoda / enzymology*
  • Gastropoda / physiology*
  • Gastropoda / ultrastructure
  • L-Iditol 2-Dehydrogenase / analysis
  • L-Iditol 2-Dehydrogenase / metabolism*
  • Mannitol / metabolism
  • Sorbitol / metabolism
  • Species Specificity
  • Substrate Specificity


  • Mannitol
  • Sorbitol
  • Alcohol Oxidoreductases
  • L-Iditol 2-Dehydrogenase
  • mannitol oxidase

Grants and funding

This study was supported by funds provided by the Abel Salazar Institute of Biomedical Sciences (ICBAS) of the University of Porto (Portugal), and by Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT) through the strategic project UID/MAR/04292/2013 granted to MARE. The funder had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.