The ultrastructure of male and female gametes of asconoid sponge Leucosolenia complicata(Calcispongiae, Calcaronea), a hermaphrodite species that reproduces in autumn, is described. The mature sponge's oocytes were up to 70 μm in diameter, had no coatings, and contained a nucleus about 31 μm in diameter with large nucleoli (up to 6.6 μm). There were vacuoles with fibrillar contents typical of calcareous sponges in ooplasm. During vitellogenesis, a cluster of a great number of nurse cells developed above each oocyte from transformed choanocytes. Mature spermia of L. complicatalooked like orbicular cells about 2.5 μm in diameter, with no acrosome or tail. The spermium nucleus (diameter about 2.2 μm) was formed by incompletely condensed chromatin and was surrounded with a thin layer of cytoplasm of nonuniform thickness. In the thick layer of cytoplasm beyond the ribosomes, there were two or three mitochondria, dictyosomes, and electron-dense protein bodies lying freely under the nucleus. Fertilization occurred with the aid of a carrier cell. During spawning (mass release of spermia), any nurse cell complex can seize a spermium and transform into a carrier cell in situ. The transformation of a seized spermium into a spermiocyst was connected with the rapid isolation of the spermium nucleus from the protein body. Fertilization began with the penetration of the protein body into the oocyte cytoplasm. Only after this did the spermium's nucleus penetrate into the oocyte.
Russian Journal of Marine Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 16, 2004
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