Spermatogenesis and spermatozoa in Stygocapitella subterranea (Annelida, Parergodrilidae), an enigmatic supralittoral polychaete
|ADAPTATIONS; AEOLOSOMATIDAE; Anatomy & Morphology; CHALUPSKY; HRABEIELLA PIZL; introsperm; MORPHOLOGY; Parergodrilidae; REISINGER; SPERM ULTRASTRUCTURE; spermatogenesis; spermatozoa; SPERMIOGENESIS; Stygocapitella; Zoology
The intertidal polychaete species Stygocapitella subterranea (Parergodrilidae) is characterised by extraordinary biology and morphology, resembling those of clitellates and Hrabeiella periglandulata, a terrestrial species of Annelida. An ultrastructural study of the spermatogenesis and spermatozoa was undertaken to elucidate whether these similarities might exhibit adaptive characters typical of annelids with highly derived reproductive modes. A second goal was to find out whether there are some common apomorphic features between S. subterranea and its sister taxon, Parergodrilus heideri, instead of the differences observed on the light-microscopic level, as well as to look for potential synapomorphies to support a suggested relationship to Orbiniidae and Questidae. Spermatogenesis conforms to the general pattern typical of Annelida. Spermatids develop on large cytophores comprising at least 128 cells. The spermatozoa are extremely thread-like and, with a length of about 320 mu m, are among the longest spermatozoa known for annelids. The acrosome is elongated and consists only of an acrosomal vesicle with a large subacrosomal space. A conspicuous feature is the incomplete chromatin condensation, resembling late spermatids. In the long midpiece, there is a single ring-shaped mitochondrial derivative, which develops by fusion out of a multiple array of eight mitochondria surrounding the axoneme. There is a distinct annulus between midpiece and tail. The proximal part of the tail is immobile; the axoneme is surrounded by a thick layer of cytoplasm and bears a velum-like extension. In addition to characters apomorphic for S. subterranea, these latter three features exhibit certain similarities to P. heideri that are likely to be synapomorphic. Unfortunately, a relationship of Parergodrilidae to an orbiniid/questid clade does not receive additional support from spermatozoal characters. Similarities with either Clitellata or H. periglandulata are likely to be primarily related to corresponding features of their reproductive biology rather than to phylogenetic relationship.
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