In bivalves and gastropods, ventricle contraction causes a negative pressure in the auricles and increases venous return from the afferent oblique vein (AOV): the constant-volume (CV) mechanism. The flow in the AOV should be a pulsative flow synchronized with the ventricular contraction. The flow in the heart and adjacent vessels of Mytilus galloprovincialis were measured by magnetic resonance imaging to confirm this hypothesis. Under a regular heartbeat, pulsative flows in the AOV and branchial vessels (BVs) were almost completely synchronized with the flow in the aorta, while filling of the ventricle was in the opposite phase. Flows in the BVs were directed to the posterior direction, and a pair of BVs in the gill axes (the efferent BVs) were connected to the AOV. Based on the images of the whole pathway of the AOV in an oblique slice, we confirmed that haemolymph flow was evoked from the efferent BVs and flow into the ventricle via the auricle was completed in a single heartbeat. Therefore, the walls of the AOV and BVs could resist negative transmural pressure caused by the ventricular contraction. In conclusion, the auricle, the AOV and the BVs, including the gill filaments, act as a suction pump. The pulsative venous return is driven by the negative pressure of the AOV as in the CV mechanism, and the negative pressure in the efferent BVs could draw haemolymph from the sinus via the gill and the afferent BVs. Therefore, Mytilus can start and stop its heartbeat as necessary.

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