Complex genital system of a haplogyne spider (Arachnida, Araneae, Tetrablemmidae) indicates internal fertilization and full female control over transferred sperm

Burger, Matthias; Michalik, Peter; Graber, Werner; Jacob, Alain; Nentwig, Wolfgang; Kropf, Christian (2006). Complex genital system of a haplogyne spider (Arachnida, Araneae, Tetrablemmidae) indicates internal fertilization and full female control over transferred sperm. Journal of morphology, 267(2), pp. 166-186. Philadelphia, Pa.: Wistar Institute of Anatomy and Biology 10.1002/jmor.10394

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The female genital organs of the tetrablemmid Indicoblemma lannaianum are astonishingly complex. The copulatory orifice lies anterior to the opening of the uterus externus and leads into a narrow insertion duct that ends in a genital cavity. The genital cavity continues laterally in paired tube-like copulatory ducts, which lead into paired, large, sac-like receptacula. Each receptaculum has a sclerotized pore plate with associated gland cells. Paired small fertilization ducts originate in the receptacula and take their curved course inside the copulatory ducts. The fertilization ducts end in slit-like openings in the sclerotized posterior walls of the copulatory ducts. Huge masses of secretions forming large balls are detectable in the female receptacula. An important function of these secretory balls seems to be the encapsulation of spermatozoa in discrete packages in order to avoid the mixing of sperm from different males. In this way, sperm competition may be completely prevented or at least severely limited. Females seem to have full control over transferred sperm and be able to express preference for spermatozoa of certain males. The lumen of the sperm containing secretory balls is connected with the fertilization duct. Activated spermatozoa are only found in the uterus internus of females, which is an indication of internal fertilization. The sperm cells in the uterus internus are characterized by an extensive cytoplasm and an elongated, cone-shaped nucleus. The male genital system of I. lannaianum consists of thick testes and thin convoluted vasa deferentia that open into the wide ductus ejaculatorius. The voluminous globular palpal bulb is filled with seminal fluid consisting of a globular secretion in which only a few spermatozoa are embedded. The spermatozoa are encapsulated by a sheath produced in the genital system. The secretions in females may at least partly consist of male secretions that could be involved in the building of the secretory balls or play a role in sperm activation. The male secretions could also afford nutriments to the spermatozoa.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > Institute of Anatomy
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE) > Community Ecology

UniBE Contributor:

Graber, Werner Adrian and Nentwig, Wolfgang




Wistar Institute of Anatomy and Biology




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Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 14:49

Last Modified:

17 Mar 2015 21:49

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URI: (FactScience: 3655)

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