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Sperm structure and spermiogenesis in Atelura formicaria Heyden (Zygentoma, Insecta)

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Abstract Dallai, R., Lupetti, P., Carapelli, A., Frati, F. and Afzelius, B. A. 2002. Sperm structure and spermiogenesis in Atelura formicaria Heyden (Zygentoma, Insecta). — Acta Zoologica (Stockholm) 83: 245–262

The spermatozoon of Atelura formicaria (Zygentoma) shows several features that are typical of insects: an apical acrosome, an elongated dense nucleus, a centriole with expanded centriolar adjunct material, two large mitochondrial derivatives, and two thin accessory bodies located beneath the nucleus. The axoneme exhibits a 9 + 9 + 2 pattern with accessory tubules formed by 16 protofilaments and intertubular material. However, spermatozoa of A. formicaria show some remarkable features. The sperm cell is short for an insect, being only 50 µm in length. The nucleus is characterized by the presence of two lateral grooves which are filled with numerous infoldings of the nuclear envelope. In a cross-section the chromatin has the configuration of the Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Vitruvian man’. Each mitochondrial derivative has a peculiar structure with peripheral cristae and four crystalline bodies in its matrix; two of these crystalline bodies are large and have differently orientated cristal planes. At the end of spermiogenesis, sperm bundles are stored in the proximal part of the testes. Secretions from the epithelial wall of this region give rise to large globular structures. These include sperm bundles intermingled with dense granules, forming the so called ‘spermatolophids’. These formations descend along the deferent duct and are stored in the expanded seminal vesicle. Atelura spermatozoa do not pair as in some Lepismatidae, nor do they fuse as in Tricholepidion (Lepidotrichidae). Thus, sperm aggregation in Zygentoma is realized according to different modalities and can hardly be considered as a synapomorphic trait of its subtaxa.
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Keywords: insect spermatozoa; phylogeny; spermatophore

Document Type: Original Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Evolutionary Biology, University of Siena, via A. Mozo 2, I-53100 Siena, Italy; 2: Department of Ultrastructure Research, Arrhenius Laboratories F3, Stockholm University, S-10691, Sweden

Publication date: 01 July 2002

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