The fine structure of Gnathostomulid reproductive organs


The male copulatory organs of five species of Gnathostomulida Scleroperalia have been studied by TEM techniques. These observations provide a more solid basis for classification in the light microscope: inLabidognathia longicollis (fam. Mesognathariidae) the stylet is composed of eight, and inSemaeognathia sterreri, Gnathostomula jenneri, Gnathostomula mediterranea andGnathostomula microstyla (Gnathostomulidae) of ten stylet rods. Each rod consists of a microtubule-filled inner rod, and of an outer rod, filled with ‘crystallized inclusions’. The inner rods are continuous with eight — or ten — rod formation cells which are located in the proximal stylet sack. Bipartition of rods occurs by a longitudinal invagination of the basement lamina, underlying the rod cells and the gland cells and continuous with that of the body wall epithelium. InLabidognathia, the outer rods are interlocked, in Gnathostomulidae, the stylet rods are surrounded by an extracellular (‘cuticular’) tube-like stylet sheath of variable fine structure, which is believed to provide extra rigidity. In the species investigated, one single stylet gland, consisting of a monolayered epithelium showing different gland cell types, surrounds the stylet. In the apical gland cell portions, medially and distally membrane-bound secretory granules lie adjacent to the stylet sheath. In Gnathostomulidae, two anterior gland cells are seen in connection with the formation of the stylet sheath. In the muscular sheath the cross-striated fibers, basically derived from the longitudinal body wall musculature, show a tendency towards helical and circumferential arrangement. Musculature is especially prominent in the proximal stylet sack, which is rather a propulsive element than a sperm-storing vesicle, and lacks glands. InGnathostomula species, atrial cells underlie the distal tip of the stylet. The entrance into the male opening is lined with ciliary receptor cells and specialized gland cells. Stylet evolution in Scleroperalia is characterized by progressive differentiation of the muscular sheath, in particular of the proximal stylet sack, and of the stylet — the occurrence of a stylet sheath is seen in connection with increasing diversity of stylet shape.

DOI: 10.1007/BF00994087

Cite this paper

@article{Mainitz2004TheFS, title={The fine structure of Gnathostomulid reproductive organs}, author={Marlene Mainitz}, journal={Zoomorphologie}, year={2004}, volume={92}, pages={241-272} }