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Ultrastructural analysis of spermiogenesis in Rhacophorus arboreus (Amphibia, Anura, Rhacophoridae)



The spermatozoa of the Japanese green tree frog, Rhacophorus arboreus (Amphibia, Anura, Rhacophoridae), have a characteristic corkscrew-shaped head and a thick tail that extends perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the head. We examined the process of spermatogenesis in Rh. arboreus, particularly spermiogenesis, using light and transmission electron microscopy. Spermiogenesis was categorized into the early, mid, and late stages based on the spermatid morphology and their location within the cyst. Early spermatids had a round nucleus and two independent flagella that elongated from a pair of parallel centrioles. The centrioles became embedded in centriolar adjunct material and attached to the nucleus. Then, the flagella were covered with a mantle-like cytoplasm that contained many microtubules. An acrosome appeared on the pointed side of the slightly elongated nucleus. Mid spermatids had an elongated rod-like head. As the nucleus elongated, the chromatin fibers became thicker and were arranged parallel to the elongation axis. An elongated acrosome was attached helically along the lateral side of the elongated nucleus. The biflagellate spermatids transformed into monoflagellate spermatids with two axonemes through a process in which the plasma membrane of each flagellum expanded. Late spermatids had a coiled or corkscrew-shaped head. An acrosome was located on the inside of the coiled cone composed of a nucleus. Parallel microtubules were connected in rows, and then became crystallized in the tail. The present report contains the first morphological description of spermatogenesis in Rhacophorus and suggests that spermiogenesis evolved to adapt to the fertilization environment. J. Morphol., 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.