Ultrastructure of the reproductive system of the black swamp snake (Seminatrix pygaea). I. Evidence for oviducal sperm storage

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Journal of Morphology

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Oviducal sperm storage in the viviparous (lecithotrophic) colubrid snake Seminatrix pygaea was studied by light and electron microscopy. Out of 17 adult snakes examined from May–October, sperm were found in the oviducts of only two specimens. In a preovulatory female sacrificed 14 May, sperm were found in the oviducal lumen and sperm storage tubules (SSTs) of the posterior infundibulum. In a nonvitellogenic female sacrificed 9 June, sperm were found in the lumen and glands of the posterior uterus and anterior vagina, indicating a recent mating. The glands in the posterior infundibulum and vagina were simple or compound tubular, whereas glands in the uterus always were simple tubular. The epithelium of the sperm storage glands was not modified from that lining the rest of the oviduct. The cuboidal or columnar epithelium consisted of alternating ciliated and secretory areas. The secretory product released into the lumen by a merocrine process contained mucoprotein. Lipid droplets also were numerous in the epithelium. Portions of sperm sometimes were embedded in the apical cytoplasm or in secretory material. A carrier matrix containing a mucoid substance, desquamated epithelium, lipids, membranous structures, and possibly phagocytes was found around sperm in the posterior uterus.


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