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J Morphol. 2008 Apr;269(4):464-78.

Fine structure of the spermatheca and of the accessory glands in Orchesella villosa (Collembola, Hexapoda).

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Department of Evolutionary Biology, University of Siena, 53100 Siena, Italy.


The spermatheca and the accessory glands of the collembolan Orchesella villosa are described for the first time. Both organs exhibit ultrastructural differences, according to the time of the intermolt in which the specimens were observed. A thick cuticular layer lines the epithelial cells of the accessory glands. In the reproductive phase, they are involved in secretory activity; a moderately dense secretion found in the apical cell region opens into the gland lumen. Cells with an extracellular cistern are intermingled with the secretory cells. These cells could be involved in fluid secretion, with the secretory product opening into the cistern which is filled with an electron-transparent material. After the reproductive phase, the gland lumen becomes filled with a dense secretion. The accessory gland secretion may play a protective role towards the eggs. The spermatheca is located between the accessory glands; its epithelium is lined by a thin cuticle forming spine-like projections into the lumen and consists of cells provided with an extracellular cistern. Secretory cells, similar to those seen in the accessory glands, are missing. Cells with a cistern could be involved in the production of a fluid secretion determining sperm unrolling and sperm motility.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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