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J Exp Zool. 2002 Feb 1;292(2):187-99.

Female sperm storage in reptiles.

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Department of Biology, Saint Mary's College, Notre Dame, Indiana 46556, USA.


Internal fertilization and oviparity most likely are symplesiomorphies for modern reptiles, and viviparity has evolved independently numerous times in Sauria and Serpentes. Oviducal sperm storage is known in females of all taxa except Amphisbaenia. However, in Rhynchocephalia and Crocodilia, sperm storage is poorly studied, and specialized sperm storage tubules (Ssts) are unknown. We use the molecular phylogenetic hypothesis [(Chelonia+Archosauria) (Squamata)] to trace evolution of sperm storage characters. Ssts arose independently in Chelonia and Squamata. Turtles possess albumen-secreting glands in the anterior half of the oviduct (the tuba or isthmus), and the most distal of these glands also serve as Ssts; in addition, some turtles possess Ssts in the adjacent segment of the oviduct, the uterus. Squamates lack albumen-secreting glands, and the ancestral state is possession of Ssts in the posterior infundibulum (uterine tube). Secondarily, iguanids have evolved vaginal Ssts. In this paper, we present the first ultrastructural observations on vaginal Ssts in lizards, using Anolis sagrei (Polychrotidae). Proximally, the neck of these simple tubular glands continues the alternation of ciliated and secretory cells lining the lumen of the vagina. However, the epithelial cells of the distal sperm storage area are neither secretory nor ciliated. The Ssts of Anolis are more similar to those of birds more than to infundibular receptacles in snakes and lizards.

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