Ovary of the pipefish, Syngnathus scovelli

Authors

  • Paul C. Begovac,

    1. Whitney Laboratory, University of Florida, St. Augustine, Florida 32086
    2. Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, College of Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32610
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  • Robin A. Wallace

    1. Whitney Laboratory, University of Florida, St. Augustine, Florida 32086
    2. Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, College of Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32610
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Abstract

Gross dissection, light microscopy, and transmission electron microscopy were used to generate a detailed understanding of the ovarian anatomy of the pipefish, Syngnathus scovelli. The ovary is a cylindrical tube bounded by an outer layer consisting of a smooth muscle wall and an inner layer of luminal epithelium, with follicles sandwiched between the two layers. A remarkable feature of this ovary is a sequential pattern of follicle development. This pattern begins at the germinal ridge with a gradient of follicles of increasing developmental age extending to the mature edge. The germinal ridge is an outpocketed region of the luminal epithelium containing early germinal cells and somatic prefollicular cells. Therefore, the germinal ridge and luminal epithelium share the same ovarian compartment and follicle formation occurs within this compartment. The mature edge is defined as the site of oocyte maturation and ovulation. The outer ovarian wall contains unmyelinated nerve fibers throughout. Longitudinally oriented unmyelinated nerves are also observed near the smooth muscle bundles associated with the mature edge. Oocytes near the mature edge are polarized such that the germinal vesicle (nucleus) is generally oriented toward the luminal epithelium. The sandwichlike organization of the ovary results in follicles that have a shared theca. An extensive lymphatic network is also interspersed among the follicles. Thus, the exceptional features of the pipefish ovary make it particularly well suited for the examination of early events in oogenesis. Specifically, we characterize pipefish folliculogenesis in detail.

Ancillary