David M. Sever

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Journal of Morphology

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In mature male snakes and lizards, a distal portion of the nephron is hypertrophied in relation to its appearance in females and immature males. This sexual segment of the male kidney apparently provides seminal fluid that is mixed with sperm and released into the female cloaca during copulation. In this article, we provide the first study at the ultrastructural level of seasonal variation in the sexual segment of the kidney of a squamate, the natricine snake Seminatrix pygaea. Previous workers have indicated that the sexual segment is secretory only when the testes are spermatogenically active. The sexual segment of the kidney in S. pygaea does not go through an extended period of inactivity but does show a cycle of synthesis and secretion that can be related to the spermatogenic cycle and mating activity. We show that synthesis of secretory product is initiated with the onset of spermatogenic activity in the spring and culminates with completion of spermiation in the fall. Secretion of the product, however, occurs in a premating period in March when the testes are inactive. Secretion during this premating period is probably necessary to provide time for the passage of the products down the ureter in order to mix with spermduring mating later in spring.


This article is a US Government work and, as such, is in the public domain in the United States of America.

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