Male genital organs in the eulittoral meiofaunal polychaete Stygocapitella subterranea (Annelida, Parergodrilidae): ultrastructure, functional and phylogenetic significance
|18S RDNA SEQUENCES; 28S RDNA; ADAPTATIONS; Anatomy & Morphology; CLITELLATA ANNELIDA; EVOLUTION; HESIONIDES-ARENARIA; HRABEIELLA PIZL; MOLECULAR-DATA; MORPHOLOGY; SPERMATOZOA; Zoology
The marine interstitial polychaete Stygocapitella subterranea is characterized by aberrant morphological and biological traits resembling those of clitellates and Hrabeiella periglandulata, a terrestrial polychaete species. Although clearly related to the terrestrial Parergodrilus heideri, there are distinct differences in their morphology. An ultrastructural study of the male genital organs was undertaken to look for common apomorphic features in Parergodrilidae, to find structural evidence for clarifying their reproductive biology and mode of sperm transfer. Finally it should be elucidated whether a supposed sister-group relationship of Parergodrilidae and Orbiniidae based on molecular evidence can be supported by morphological characters as well. In S. subterranea the male organs consist of an impaired seminal vesicle, a pair of sperm ducts and two large tube-like prostate glands. These glands constitute the distal parts of the gonoducts and open ventrally on a small genital papilla in chaetiger 9. True copulatory organs or organs for storage of mature sperm are lacking. The seminal vesicle is a coelomic cavity composed of two apposed coelomic linings supplied with blood spaces. The testes are found ventrally. The prostate glands are covered by a single layer of muscle fibres running in a longitudinal/ spiral direction along the gland. There are no signs of spermatophore formation in any part of the male system. Since females always carry sperm, pseudocopulation can be excluded and the, likelihood of either direct transfer of sperm or hypodermic injection is discussed. The structure of genital organs reveals similarities to those of P. heideri. Gonochorism, paired seminal vesicles and two pairs of male gonoducts opening in chaetigers 9 and 10 with a distal glandular part most likely belong to the ground pattern of Parergodrilidae. The observations confirm that consistencies with either clitellates or H. periglandulata are the result of convergent evolutionary events. On the other hand, the relationship of Parergodrilidae to an orbiniid/ questid clade receives support from the present data.
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