Anatomy and Ultrastructure of the Female Reproductive System of Pleioplana atomata (Platyhelminthes: Polycladida)


The ultrastructure of the female reproductive system of the polyclad flatworm Pleioplana atomata is described. Numerous ovaries are scattered throughout the entire body but are mainly concentrated on the dorsal side. Within an ovary, a germinative zone with oogonia and prefolicular cells is located in the dorsal part of the ovary. The remaining part of the gonad is filled with previtellogenic and early vitellogenic oocytes enwrapped by follicular cells. During previtellogenesis, oocytes produce numerous eggshell globules, which are distributed into the cortical area of the cell in later stages. Eventually, these globules release their contents into the space between the eggshell cover and oolemma. Similar types of globules are also found in others flatworms, and may represent useful phylogenetic characters. Entolecital, vitellogenic oocytes pass to paired uteri, where vitellogenesis is completed. The remainder of the female reproductive system consists of paired thin uterine ducts that join a vagina. The distal part of the long, curved vagina forms a large Lanes vesicle, while the proximal part is connected to a female atrium leading to a female gonopore. We hypothesize that Lang's vesicle functions in the digestion of excess sperm received. Two kinds of different shell (cement) glands that release their secretion into the vagina are identified. Both are unicellular glands and each gland cell connects to the lumen of the vagina via an individual canal. Similar glands in other acotylean polyclads have been implicated in the formation of eggshell covers. J. Morphol. 270:337-343, 2009. (C) 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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Journal of Morphology


John Wiley and Sons

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© 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.