Ultrastructure and tubulin immunocytochemistry of the copulatory stylet-like structure in Childia species (Acoela)

Authors

  • Yonas I. Tekle,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Systematic Zoology, Evolutionary Biology Centre, Uppsala University, 75236 Uppsala, Sweden
    2. Department of Biological Sciences, College Road, Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts 01063
    • Department of Biological Sciences, College Road, Smith College, Northampton, MA 01063
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  • Olga I. Raikova,

    1. Department of Systematic Zoology, Evolutionary Biology Centre, Uppsala University, 75236 Uppsala, Sweden
    2. Zoological Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences, 199034 St. Petersburg, Russia
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  • Jean-Lou Justine,

    1. Équipe Biogéographie Marine Tropicale, Unité Systématique, Adaptation, Évolution (CNRS, UPMC, MNHN, IRD), Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, BP A5, 98848 Noumea, New Caledonia
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  • Ulf Jondelius

    1. Department of Systematic Zoology, Evolutionary Biology Centre, Uppsala University, 75236 Uppsala, Sweden
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Abstract

One of the main characters used in acoel taxonomy is the male copulatory organ. Despite this, ultrastructural studies of this structure are scarce. We studied the ultrastructure of the copulatory organ in eight species of acoels belonging to the taxon Childia. Members of Childia possess a well-developed conical or cylindrical stylet-like structure composed of needles. Immunogold cytochemistry of tubulin was used to determine the composition of the needles. Stylet-like structures of Childia species at the ultrastructural level are basically similar. Stylet needles show intracellular differentiations. As shown both by ultrastructural and immunocytochemical methods, the stylet needles, in all species studied, are composed of long, parallel microtubules, either tightly packed or polymerized. We report unusual polymerization of microtubules, resulting in formation of a honeycomb-like structure in cross section. Variations of ultrastructure among Childia species include numbers and arrangement of stylet needles, shape of needles, needle compactness, microtubule polymerization, direction of stylet growth, and presence/absence of different types of granules. The stylet-like structures are homologous within Childia, but are likely to prove nonhomologous with the other needle-like structures found in acoel copulatory organs. Stylets in Platyhelminthes are not homologous with stylet-like structures in acoels. J. Morphol., 2007. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Ancillary