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Functional Morphology and Ultrastructure of the Male Reproductive System in the Leptestheriidae (Branchiopoda, Conchostraca)

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The paired, plurilobate testes that make up the male reproductive system of the Leptestheriidae lie on either side of the intestine, occupy most of the haemocoel and extend outwards through two short deferents located at the eleventh pair of limbs. The ample lumen within the gonads, which are wedged into the somatic muscular bundle, is full of a muco-polysaccharide fluid matrix exhibiting a few, widely scattered germinal elements. The wall consists of a simple epithelium containing somatic and germinal cells mixed together. The sperms mature in the lumen and collect in the ampulla in front of the deferents; the wall of the deferents is formed by an epithelium of vacuolated cells surrounded by a muscular bundle and their lumen is usually collapsed. The sperm is expelled along with the polysaccharide matrix by contraction of the somatic muscular bundle and of the deferents, which swell out to become ducts. The matrix condenses on the outside in a sticky, fibrous structure that coats the germinal elements so as to form a spermatophore. A functional interpretation of the male genital apparatus is discussed.

Affiliations: 1: Dipartimento di Biologia Evoluzionistica Sperimentale, Sede di Zoologia, Università degli Studi di Bologna, Via S. Giacomo 9, I-40126 Bologna, Italy


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