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Keywords:

  • spermatogenesis;
  • testicular cycle;
  • efferent ducts;
  • viviparous lizard;
  • Mabuya

Abstract

We describe seasonal variations of the histology of the seminiferous tubules and efferent ducts of the tropical, viviparous skink, Mabuya brachypoda, throughout the year. The specimens were collected monthly, in Nacajuca, Tabasco state, Mexico. The results revealed strong annual variations in testicular volume, stages of the germ cells, and diameter and height of the epithelia of seminiferous tubules and efferent ducts. Recrudescence was detected from November to December, when initial mitotic activity of spermatogonia in the seminiferous tubules were observed, coinciding with the decrease of temperature, photoperiod and rainy season. From January to February, early spermatogenesis continued and early primary and secondary spermatocytes were developing within the seminiferous epithelium. From March through April, numerous spermatids in metamorphosis were observed. Spermiogenesis was completed from May through July, which coincided with an increase in temperature, photoperiod, and rainfall. Regression occurred from August through September when testicular volume and spermatogenic activity decreased. During this time, the seminiferous epithelium decreased in thickness, and germ cell recruitment ceased, only Sertoli cells and spermatogonia were present in the epithelium. Throughout testicular regression spermatocytes and spermatids disappeared and the presence of cellular debris, and scattered spermatozoa were observed in the lumen. The regressed testes presented the total suspension of spermatogenesis. During October, the seminiferous tubules contained only spermatogonia and Sertoli cells, and the size of the lumen was reduced, giving the appearance that it was occluded. In concert with testis development, the efferent ducts were packed with spermatozoa from May through August. The epididymis was devoid of spermatozoa by September. M. brachypoda exhibited a prenuptial pattern, in which spermatogenesis preceded the mating season. The seasonal cycle variations of spermatogenesis in M. brachypoda are the result of a single extended spermiation event, which is characteristic of reptilian species. J. Morphol. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.