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Spermatogenesis and the Ultrastructure of Sperm and of the Male Reproductive Tract of Aphelenchoides Blastophthorus (Nematoda: Tylenchida, Aphelenchina)

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The male gonad of A. blastophthorus is slender and straight; the germ cells lie in a single row for much of its length and are relatively few in number. The testis wall is very thin but in the vas deferens the wall is thick and secretory and, except during passage of sperm at mating, completely occludes the lumen. The sperm show a close resemblance to many other nematode sperm already described. Characteristic fibrillar material appears in the spermatocytes, associated with membranous structures which are modified after the meiotic division to form the "membrane specialisations" common to many nematode spermatozoa. The fibrillar material persists in the mature sperm in a degraded form. The membrane specialisations remain randomly distributed in the cytoplasm of the testicular sperm and only migrate to the periphery of the cell, where they then open to the exterior, when the sperm is in the female. Many electron-translucent vesicles and mitochrondia are also present in the sperm. Microtubular elements are sometimes seen packing the remaining cytoplasm, but there are no micro-tubules specifically associated with the sperm coat as in Heterodera spp. The electron-dense nucleus is eccentrically placed in the spermatid and spermatozoon. The spermatozoa in the testis are slightly elongated, amoeboid cells with many pseudopodia. After insemination, the sperm differentiates into two distinct regions. One is amoeboid and contains the remnants of the fibrillar material. The other is non-amoeboid and contains the organelles.

Affiliations: 1: Rothamsted Experimental Station, Harpenden, Herts., England


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