Spermatological characteristics of the enigmatic monogenean Dictyocotyle coeliaca Nybelin, 1941 (Monopisthocotylea: Monocotylidae) reveal possible adaptation to endoparasitism

Magdaléna Bruňanská, John S. Mackiewicz and Larisa G. Poddubnaya

Abstract

Spermatological characters of Dictyocotyle coeliaca Nybelin, a unique endoparasitic monogenean from the body cavity of the ray Amblyraja radiata (Elasmobranchii: Rajidae), was investigated by means of scanning and transmission electron microscopy for the first time. The process of the spermatozoon formation begins with the appearance of the differentiation zone which contains two centrioles. Subsequently developed two free flagella rotate to lie parallel before their fusing. After fusion, both the mitochondrion and nucleus migrate alongside the axonemes. Spermatids are formed within parallel cytoplasmic canals. During late spermiogenesis, an electron-dense spiral end-piece is formed proximally to the centriolar region of some spermatids. At the end of spermiogenesis, this end-piece is separated by a plasma membrane from the late spermatid and remains in the residual cytoplasm when spermatozoa are released into the testis lumen. The mature spermatozoon of D. coeliaca contains two parallel axonemes with the 9 + “1” trepaxonematan pattern, mitochondrion, nucleus, parallel cortical microtubules, and electron-dense granules. Especially the presence of electron-dense granules, occurring frequenly in the spermatozoa of endoparasitic flatworms, may indicate an adaptation to endoparasitic lifestyle in D. coeliaca. The anterior extremity of the male gamete contains one centriolar derivative, a small component of the second centriolar derivative and anterior extremity of the mitochondrion. The posterior extremity of the mature spematozoon exhibits tubular elements of the disorganized axoneme. Variations of the spermatozoon ultrastructural characters within monocotylid monogeneans and possible evolutionary significance of glycogen in sperm to the endoparasitic habit are discussed.

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