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Keywords:

  • capacitation;
  • evolution;
  • insemination;
  • reproduction;
  • sperm access system;
  • sperm cells

ABSTRACT

The ameroseiid mite Hattena cometis has a male genital system that consists of an unpaired, u-shaped testis and paired deferent ducts leading into an unpaired accessory genital gland and ejaculatory duct. The genital opening is located anteriorly immediately in front of the sternal shield. Spermatogenesis is simple, probably due to the haploid nature of the male. Eight stages of spermatogenesis could be roughly distinguished. Mature spermatozoa as found in the deferent duct lumen are peculiar in having a bisected nucleus and numerous peripheral flat chambers, which were formed from indentations of the plasmalemma. In inseminated females, spermatozoa were observed in the syncytial tissue of the sperm access system and in the somatic cells of the ovary. These spermatozoa have achieved a new structure, i.e., an electron-dense plate dividing the cell into two unequal halves. The dense plate has an intricate substructure. Its function is unknown. These sperm cells are considered to represent capacitated spermatozoa. The peripheral chambers are reduced in number inside the female. Similar sperm cells, containing a dense plate, were seen in vacuoles within the epithelium of the deferent duct of one male. These cells are evidently under destruction, but before being completely dissolved had undergone a development leading beyond that of the mature sperm cells found in the deferent duct. Apparently, entering the cell of the deferent duct epithelium or the syncytium tissue triggers the production of the dense plate (or the capacitation process). Our observations are compared with results obtained from other anactinotrichid Acari, mainly Gamasida, and confirm and complete the interpretation of the correlated evolution of components of gamasid reproductive systems. J. Morphol. 274:1010–1025, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.