This study deals with the formation and ultrastructural organization of the gonads in a common species of appendicularian, Oikopleura gracilis, from Peter the Great Bay. Light microscopy observations show that the gonads develop from a transparent primordium that is located in the basolateral part of the gonad cavity; the primordium increases in size in the process of development and differentiates into the testis and ovary. The testis is covered by a single layer of ultrastructurally uniform follicular epithelium and contains a population of proliferating male gonocytes. The ovary contains two types of germ line nuclei, which are large polyploid nuclei that belong to the auxiliary cells and small meiotic nuclei of the oocytes. The two nuclei types, together with a common cytoplasm, form a syncytium of the ovary, or the coenocyst. As in the dioecious Oikopleura dioica, the coenocyst of O. gracilis produces naked oocytes that are devoid of a type III follicular membrane. The coenocyst is covered by a single-layered follicular epithelium, in which two cell types can be distinguished ultrastructurally. Thus, the synchronous maturation of sex products in O. gracilis is achieved by the formation of the germ-line syncytium in the testis and the coenocyst in the ovary, which generates a large number of simultaneously ripening oocytes that are competent for fertilization.
Russian Journal of Marine Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Jul 4, 2012
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