Is the sperm type of the Nemertodermatida close to that of the ancestral Platyhelminthes?

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Abstract

Results from a transmission electron microscope study of the spermiogenesis and spermatozoon of Meara stichopi (Nemertodermatida, Platyhelminthes) indicate that the sperm type of the Nemertodermatida has evolved from the primitive metazoan sperm type rather than from an aberrant biflagellar sperm type as found in many other flatworms. The spirally coiled mitochondrial derivative in the mature spermatozoon develops from two large oval mitochondria in the early spermatid stages. A single flagellum grows out from a peripheral basal body adjacent to a perpendicularly placed accessory centriole. The basal body moves to a distal depression of the nucleus, and becomes equipped with an anchoring fibre apparatus. Most of the flagellum becomes axially incorporated into the developing spermatid. No trace of a second flagellum was found in any stage of the spermiogenesis. Rounded vesicles appear around the proximal, tapering end of the elongating nucleus. Most probably these vesicles form a thin acrosomal structure in the mature spermatozoon. No dense bodies, characteristic of many other ‘turbellarian' flatworm sperm types, were found.

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