Bursa tract diverticulum in the hermaphroditic land snail Arianta arbustorum (Stylommatophora: Helicidae): morphology, function, and evolutionary implications.

Abstract

A bursa tract diverticulum is widespread in the female part of the hermaphroditic reproductive system of stylommatophoran pulmonates. However, the ultrastructure of the diverticulum is unknown and there is only anecdotal evidence for a spermatophore-dissolving function for this organ. In the present study, we examined the ultrastructure of the diverticulum and investigated histological, histochemical, and morphometric changes at different time intervals after mating in the simultaneously hermaphroditic land snail Arianta arbustorum. The diverticulum in this species of snail is a prominent organ, consisting of a luminal columnar epithelium surrounded by a thick layer of connective tissue. During mating, the diverticulum functions as the site of spermatophore uptake. Within the lumen of the diverticulum the spermatophore wall is dissolved or at least partly broken down. The digested material is taken up by epithelial cells and accumulated in molluscan-specific cells of the connective tissue, the so-called rhogocytes. Subsequent to copulation, the total diameter of the diverticulum increases markedly, reaching a maximum size 12 h after mating, while at the same time the thicknesses of the diverticulum wall and diverticulum epithelium decrease. The length of the diverticulum shows a positive allometry and a high phenotypic variation compared to snail size, which suggests that the diverticulum is under directional sexual selection. We propose that the diverticulum in A. arbustorum has evolved in response to selection pressures imposed by divergent evolutionary interests between male and female function.

Cite this paper

@article{Beese2006BursaTD, title={Bursa tract diverticulum in the hermaphroditic land snail Arianta arbustorum (Stylommatophora: Helicidae): morphology, function, and evolutionary implications.}, author={Kathleen Beese and Konstantin Beier and Bruno Baur}, journal={Journal of morphology}, year={2006}, volume={267 8}, pages={940-53} }