Ultrastructure of sperm storage and male genital ducts in a male holocephalan, the elephant fish, Callorhynchus milii

William C Hamlett, Matthew Reardon, Joan Marea Clark, Terence Ivan Walker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


In chondrichthyes, the process of spermatogenesis produces a spermatocyst composed of Sertoli cells and their cohort of associated spermatozoa linearly arrayed and embedded in the apical end of the Sertoli cell. The extratesticular ducts consist of paired epididymis, ductus deferens, isthmus, and seminal vesicles. In transit through the ducts, spermatozoa undergo modification by secretions of the extratesticular ducts and associated glands, i.e., Leydig gland. In mature animals, the anterior portion of the mesonephros is specialized as the Leydig gland that connects to both the epididymis and ductus deferens and elaborates seminal fluid and matrix that contribute to the spermatophore or spermatozeugmata, depending on the species. Leydig gland epithelium is simple columnar with secretory and ciliated cells. Secretory cells have periodic acid-Schiff positive (PAS+) apical secretory granules. In the holocephalan elephant fish, Callorhynchus milii, sperm and Sertoli cell fragments enter the first major extratesticular duct, the epididymis. In the epididymis, spermatozoa are initially present as individual sperm but soon begin to laterally associate so that they are aligned head-to-head. The epididymis is a highly convoluted tubule with a small bore lumen and an epithelium consisting of scant ciliated and relatively more secretory cells. Secretory activity of both the Leydig gland and epididymis contribute to the nascent spermatophores, which begin as gel-like aggregations of secretory product in which sperm are embedded. Fully formed spermatophores occur in the ductus. The simple columnar epithelium has both ciliated and secretory cells. The spermatophore is regionalized into a PAS+ and Alcian-blue-positive (AB+) cortex and a distinctively PAS+, and less AB+ medulla. Laterally...
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111 - 128
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Experimental Zoology Part A: Ecological Genetics and Physiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2002

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