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The respiratory structures and
breathing mechanisms in humans
and animals

Prepared by
Azneezal Ar-Rashid
6 October 2009
Curious to know about..
• Protozoa
• Insects
• Fish
• Amphibian
• Human?
Respiratory structure of organisms
Organism Respiratory structure
Human Lungs
Protozoa Plasma membrane
Fish Gills
Insect Tracheal system
Amphibian Lungs
eg : Amoeba sp., Paramecium sp.
• Unicellular
– Does not need any special respiratory structure
• Plasma membrane
– Serves as its respiratory surface
• Very small in size
– Has a relatively LTSA (large total surface area)
• Body surface is always moist
– It lives in the pond and lake, to allow gases to dissolve easily
• Simple diffusion
– Takes place quickly, across the thin plasma membrane
Amoeba Breathing
Did you know?

amoeba is so small,
the surface area
of its cell membrane is very
large compared with the
volume of its cytoplasm.
The demands of
the respiratory processes
in the
cytoplasm can
therefore be met by simple
diffusion of
carbon dioxide between the
cytoplasm and the
surrounding water.
Oxygen diffuses in
and carbon
dioxide diffuses out.
maximum distance
for diffusion is
about 0.1mm

carbon dioxide
Paramecium sp.
How about insects?
Insect Internal Structures
eg : bee, grasshopper
• Special respiratory structure
• Tracheal system
– Network of air tubes called trachea
• Trachea
– Wall of each trachea is lined with ring of chitins, to prevent it from
– Open to the outside through 10 pairs of tiny holes called spiracles
• Spiracles
– Present along the sides of the thorax and abdomen
• Valves
– Each spiracle has valves, which open or close to allow the air moving in
or out of the body
• Tracheoles
– Each trachea branches into many smaller tubes called tracheoles
– Numerous tracheoles provide big surface area
– Go deep into the muscle tissues
• The breathing system in insects consists
of a series of tubes called tracheae.
• The tracheae connect to the atmosphere
by openings called spiracles. Air diffuses
through the spiracles and tracheae to all
parts of the body supplying the organs
directly with air.
• The tracheae branch repeatedly until they
end as very fine, thin-walled tubules
through which oxygen and carbon dioxide
can diffuse freely into and out of the
Breathing mechanisms
of insects
• Rhythmic
– Rhythmic contractions & expansion of the
abdominal muscles cause the air to move into
and out of the trachea, through the spiracles
• During inhalation
– Abdominal muscles relax
– Valves of the spiracles are open
– Air pressure decreases
• During exhalation
– Abdominal muscles contract
– Air pressure increases, in the trachea
– Forces the air out, through spiracles
Diagram of insect tracheal system



Tracheal supply to
muscle tissue muscle



rings of chitin

eg : tilapia (tropical fish)
Fish gills Gill filament

Gill bar

There are usually 4 gills on each side

Fish Gill Filaments

The thousands of fine branches on each filament expose a large surface area to the
water. Blood circulates in the filament branches and is separated from the water by a thin

epithelium so that oxygen and carbon dioxide diffuse through easily

Respiratory Flow in Fish
mouth gills
Breathing current
• Water is taken in through the mouth,
passes over the gills and is expelled via
the operculum.
• Movements of the mouth floor and
operculum create the current and the
‘valves’ (skin flaps) maintain a one-way
How about

The frog has a

moist skin
Water surface

Buccal cavity
• Breathe through :
– Skin
– Mouth
– Lungs
• Amphibia are vertebrates, represented in the UK
by frogs and toads.
• Amphibia can survive both on land and in water.
• In water they obtain oxygen by absorbing it
through their skin.
• On land they can breathe through their skin but
they also use their lungs.
• Although, in the UK, amphibia can spend a great
deal of time on land, they have to return to water
to reproduce
Breathing mechanisms
• The frog draws air in through its nostrils
and pumps it into the lungs by movements
of its mouth floor.
Body temperature.
Amphibia are often described as ‘cold-
blooded’ but, in fact, their temperature
with that of their surroundings.
The adaptations of the skin for gaseous
exchange in water and on land
• Thin
– Their skin is thin
– Very permeable

• Moist
– It is kept moist with secretions from its mucus glands
• Blood capillaries
– Rich supply of blood capillaries
The adaptations of the mouth for gaseous
exchange in water and on land
• Large buccal cavity
• Blood capillaries
• Muscular floors
– Act as a pump to suck in air and to pump out
the air alternately
The adaptations of the lungs for gaseous
exchange in water and on land
• Two lungs
• Elastic, connected to the mouth by an opening
called glottis
• Folded
– The inner wall of the lungs are folded, to increase the
surface area for gaseous exchange
• Moist
– Wall of the lungs are moist, to enable fast diffusion
• Blood capillaries
Breathing mechanisms of the frog
• Inhalation
• Exhalation
• Mouth and glottis are close, nostrils are
open, buccal cavity lowers
• Low pressure in the buccal cavity occurs,
causes the air from the outside to flow in
through the nostrils
• The nostrils close, the glottis open and the
buccal cavity rises
• The increased air pressure forces air from
the cavity into the lungs through glottis
• Lungs become inflated, when air is
pushed in from the buccal cavity
• Lung muscles contract
• Air is pushed out through nostrils
• Abdominal muscles and the elasticity of
the lungs help to exhale the air
• This method is called positive pressure
Did you know?
• The lungs of frogs are less efficient as
compared to the human
• They do not have ribcage
• No diaphragm, to help in the contraction of
the lungs
• Only by pumping action
– Of the muscula floor of buccal cavity to inhale and
exhale through the nostrils
Credit & million of thanks to
Thanks to Dr D G Mackean

Whizz Thru Biology – Oxford Fajar (2009)