How does oocyte uptake occur? A macroscopic study of the ovarian and oviductal modifications for egg capture in the coral-snake Micrurus corallinus

The processes of follicular development, ovulation, egg capture, and egg transport vary among vertebrates. Therefore, analysis of the reproductive tract of several lineages is needed for understanding the evolutionary changes of the reproductive system. In turtles, the ovulated eggs are released into the coelomic cavity and taken up by one of the two oviducts, a phenomenon called extrauterine migration of eggs. However, the process of egg uptake in lizards is different. The egg is ovulated directly into the infundibulum, and oocyte uptake by the contralateral oviduct rarely occurs. The same pattern has been hypothesized to occur in snakes. To test this hypothesis, we analyzed the reproductive tract of female Micrurus corallinus preserved in zoological collections. We examined the anatomical characteristics of the infundibulum and ovary and compared the reproductive output between the ovaries to verify the mechanism of egg capture and the anatomical viability of extrauterine migration of eggs. The reproductive output of the right ovary was higher than that of the left ovary, and the higher number of eggs in the right oviduct is due exclusively to the production of the ipsilateral ovary. Several anatomical features prevent extrauterine migration of eggs, including the asymmetry of the reproductive system, the arrangement of the ovarian follicles in a single row, and the formation of a wrapping around the ovary and infundibulum by the visceral pleuroperitoneum membrane (preventing against ectopic eggs). Therefore, the hypothesis of egg capture by the contralateral oviduct is anatomically infeasible in M. corallinus and possibly in other snakes.
Keywords
Elapidae;  reproduction;  ovulation;  egg uptake

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Bassi EA, Oliveira C, Braz HBP, Almeida-Santos SM. How does oocyte uptake occur? A macroscopic study of the ovarian and oviductal modifications for egg capture in the coral-snake Micrurus corallinus. Anat. Rec.. 2018 Nov;301(11):1936-43. doi:10.1002/ar.23904.
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