Morphological changes in eupyrene and apyrene spermatozoa in the reproductive tract of the male butterfly Atrophaneura alcinous Klug

M. Kubo-Irie, M. Irie, T. Nakazawa, H. Mohri

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    Eupyrene and apyrene spermatozoa are contained in separate cysts in the testis of the butterfly Atrophaneura alcinous. Spermatozoa of both types from various parts of the male reproductive tract were examined with particular reference to their morphological characteristics. All spermatozoa collected from the vas deferens and the vesicula seminalis were found to be immotile under a dissecting microscope. No spermatozoa of either type were recognized in any part of the ejaculatory duct. Within the testis, eupyrene spermatozoa are present in bundles and each spermatozoon has a slender nucleus with an acrosome and a long flagellum containing mitochondrial derivatives. Two kinds of appendages, lacinate and reticular, are present on the surface of the sperm membrane. They are replaced with an extracellular sheath during passage through the vas deferens. In contrast, apyrene spermatozoa have neither nucleus nor acrosome, whereas a cup-shaped structure was found at the sperm tip instead of the acrosome. Unlike eupyrene spermatozoa, they are surrounded by a concentric sheath outside the sperm membrane in the vas deferens. Individual apyrene spermatozoa and coiled bundles of eupyrene spermatozoa were both found to accumulate in the vesicula seminalis before mating. These morphological changes during passage through the male reproductive tract suggests the occurrence of a kind of maturation and capacitation process reminiscent of mammalian spermatozoa.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)259-268
    Number of pages10
    JournalInvertebrate Reproduction and Development
    Issue number2-3
    Publication statusPublished - 1998 Nov



    • Apyrene sperm
    • Butterfly
    • Eupyrene sperm
    • Reproductive tract

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Developmental Biology
    • Cell Biology
    • Animal Science and Zoology

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