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The anatomy of fertilization in the yellow dung fly Scathophaga stercoraria


Arthur, B I; Sbilordo, Sonja H; Pemberton, A J; Ward, Paul I (2008). The anatomy of fertilization in the yellow dung fly Scathophaga stercoraria. Journal of Morphology, 269(5):630-637.

Abstract

Female yellow dung flies, Scathophaga stercoraria, can influence the traffic of sperm stored in their spermathecae to the site of fertilization in the bursa copulatrix. However, the anatomical mechanisms employed are largely unknown. We investigated the anatomy of the female genital tract, seeking structures involved in sperm transfer and egg fertilization. We found a membranous structure descending from the ends of the spermathecal and accessory gland ducts into the bursa copulatrix. We call this the prolatus. Sperm accumulate in the prolatus during oviposition. When an egg is in the bursa the egg micropyle, rather than being aligned towards the dorsal openings of the spermathecal ducts, lies on the opposite, ventral side. We also confirm the presence, and suggest a function for, a cuticularized pouch on the ventral wall of the anterior bursa copulatrix. This pouch, plus a previously undescribed chamber, may be homologous to the ventral receptacle/fertilization chamber found in other dipterans. Further, we describe a translucent cap, apparently transversed by channels, covering the micropyle. Sperm were observed to aggregate on and in the micropyle cap, which appears to attract and hold sperm. We interpret the prolatus as a structure that allows an ovipositing female to transfer a few sperm onto the ventral bursal wall and thus, indirectly, onto the micropyle cap. Such anatomy potentially gives the female a large degree of control over sperm traffic from storage to the site of fertilization.

Female yellow dung flies, Scathophaga stercoraria, can influence the traffic of sperm stored in their spermathecae to the site of fertilization in the bursa copulatrix. However, the anatomical mechanisms employed are largely unknown. We investigated the anatomy of the female genital tract, seeking structures involved in sperm transfer and egg fertilization. We found a membranous structure descending from the ends of the spermathecal and accessory gland ducts into the bursa copulatrix. We call this the prolatus. Sperm accumulate in the prolatus during oviposition. When an egg is in the bursa the egg micropyle, rather than being aligned towards the dorsal openings of the spermathecal ducts, lies on the opposite, ventral side. We also confirm the presence, and suggest a function for, a cuticularized pouch on the ventral wall of the anterior bursa copulatrix. This pouch, plus a previously undescribed chamber, may be homologous to the ventral receptacle/fertilization chamber found in other dipterans. Further, we describe a translucent cap, apparently transversed by channels, covering the micropyle. Sperm were observed to aggregate on and in the micropyle cap, which appears to attract and hold sperm. We interpret the prolatus as a structure that allows an ovipositing female to transfer a few sperm onto the ventral bursal wall and thus, indirectly, onto the micropyle cap. Such anatomy potentially gives the female a large degree of control over sperm traffic from storage to the site of fertilization.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Language:English
Date:2008
Deposited On:30 Sep 2008 13:16
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 12:29
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN:0022-2887
Publisher DOI:10.1002/jmor.10617
Permanent URL: http://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-4075

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