Development of spermatozoa in the rhea



We have examined the ultrastructural changes that take place during spermiogenesis in the rhea. Spermatozoa are characterized by a curved head a midpiece. A thin rod extends from the anterior tip of the spermatozoon through the center of the nucleus. A 3-μ-long distal centriole occupies the entire midpiece. The principal piece is characterized by a small fibrous sheath and tiny dense fibers that are only observed in the region of the principal piece, which is immediatley behind the annulus. During development a circular manchette surrounds the nucleus of young spermatids. Later the microtubules of the circular manchette become reoganized into a longitudinal manchette. A long distal and short proximal centriole are observed in early round spermatids. The distal centriole becomes associated with the plasma membrane. Later the proximal centriole is observed in association with the nucleus. The area around the centriole pair then accumulates dense material, which is associated with either the centrioles or the circular manchette. The longitudinal manchette forms and then dissappears and mitochondria subsequently associate with the distal centriole. The long centriole of the rhea enables this species to develop a midpiece similar to the midpiece of mammalian sperm without the complex intercellular movements that characterize mammalian spermiogenesis.