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Acta Parasitologica

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Volume 60, Issue 4


Sperm transfer in monogenean (platyhelminth) parasites

Graham Kearn
  • Corresponding author
  • School of Biological Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich Research Park, Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK
  • Email
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Ian Whittington
  • Monogenean Research Laboratory, Parasitology Section, The South Australian Museum, North Terrace, Adelaide, South Australia 5000, Australia
  • Marine Parasitology Laboratory, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences (DX 650 418), The University of Adelaide, North Terrace, Adelaide, South Australia 5005, Australia
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
Published Online: 2015-09-25 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ap-2015-0082


There are three major groups of parasitic platyhelminths (flatworms). The digeneans and cestodes are endoparasites, while the monogeneans are ectoparasites mostly on the gills or skin of fishes. Monogeneans are hermaphrodite and, with the exception of the gyrodactylids, mostly protandrous, the male reproductive system maturing before the female system. Their ectoparasitic life-style provides unique opportunities to observe the reproductive biology of living platyhelminths, opportunities restricted in digeneans and cestodes by their endoparasitic habits. Moreover, the male copulatory organs (MCOs) of monogeneans are of special interest because of their perplexing diversity, ranging from sclerotised penis tubes, many with accessory sclerites, to cirruses and genital atrium armature (hooks and spines). The relatively few accounts in the literature of mating in monogeneans are reproduced in this review, together with consideration of the following aspects of sperm transfer: structure and function of MCOs; self-insemination; spermatophores and pseudospermatophores; “hypodermic” and transtegumental insemination; tissue fusion; glands associated with MCOs and vaginae; finding a mating partner.

Keywords: Penis; cirrus; self-insemination; spermatophores; pseudospermatophores; “hypodermic” insemination; transtegumental insemination; tissue fusion; glands; reproductive behaviour


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About the article

Received: 2015-03-25

Revised: 2015-03-27

Accepted: 2015-04-27

Published Online: 2015-09-25

Published in Print: 2015-12-01

Citation Information: Acta Parasitologica, Volume 60, Issue 4, Pages 567–600, ISSN (Online) 1896-1851, ISSN (Print) 1230-2821, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ap-2015-0082.

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