Anatomy and ultrastructure of the male reproductive system in Pleioplana atomata (Platyhelminthes: Polycladida)


  • Marcin K. Liana,

    1. Department of Comparative Anatomy, Institute of Zoology, Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland
    2. Department of Invertebrate Zoology, Institute of Systematics and Evolution of Animals, Polish Academy of Science, Krakow, Poland
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  • Marian K. Litvaitis

    1. Department of Natural Resources, University of New Hampshire, Durham, New Hampshire 03824, USA
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Abstract. The ultrastructure of the male reproductive system in the polyclad flatworm Pleioplana atomata is described. Numerous testes are scattered throughout the entire body but are heavily concentrated on the ventral side. All stages of differentiating sperm cells are present in all testes follicles. Intercellular bridges connect spermatocytes and spermatids derived from a single spermatogonium. In the distal part of spermatids, a zone of differentiation develops with a row of microtubules beneath the plasmalemma. Adjacent to these microtubules, an intercentriolar body is flanked by two basal bodies that give rise to two axonemes (each with a 9+“1” microtubular pattern) that face in opposite directions. The Golgi complex appears in the central portion of the spermatid and produces numerous small and large electron-dense bodies. The small bodies surround the nucleus, whereas the large bodies cluster along with the mitochondria in the central part of the spermatid. Development of the spermatid leads to cell elongation and formation of a filiform, biflagellate mature spermatozoon with cortical microtubules all along the sperm shaft. The male canal system consists of paired vasa deferentia that separately enter a single seminal vesicle. A single prostatic canal connects the seminal vesicle to the prostatic vesicle. Ultrastructurally, the seminal vesicle and prostatic canal are very similar, and along with the prostatic vesicle and stylet pocket, are lined by a ciliated epithelium. The ultrastructure of the prostatic vesicle indicates that it probably produces a large volume of seminal fluid that, along with spermatozoa, is transferred to the mating partner through a stylet. Some of the findings, particularly on sperm ultrastructure, may provide characters useful for phylogenetic analysis.