A histological and ultrastructural investigation of the female reproductive system of the water snake (Erythrolamprus miliaris): oviductal cycle and sperm storage

We studied the structural and cellular organisation of the oviduct of Erythrolamprus miliaris including its morphological variation during the reproductive cycle using light microscopy, scanning electron microscopy and transmission electron microscopy. Four anatomically distinct regions compose the oviduct of E. miliaris including the anterior and posterior infundibulum, glandular uterus, non-glandular uterus and pouch. The cells of the oviductal epithelium secrete material by apocrine and merocrine processes, which vary between the anatomical regions and according to each phase of the reproductive cycle. The infundibular epithelium secretes electron dense vacuoles, which suggests the production of lipids, whereas the epithelial secretion of the glandular uterus, non-glandular uterus and pouch creates lucent and slightly electron dense vacuoles, indicating the production of glycoproteins. The timing of mating, vitellogenesis and sperm storage directly influences the morphofunctional alterations in the oviducts of E. miliaris. Sperm storage occurs only in the infundibular receptacles with increased production of the neutral carbohydrates in the presence of male gametes. Sperm storage happens in vitellogenic, non-vitellogenic and pregnant females of E. miliaris. Thus, females may be able to produce multiple clutches at different seasons of the year regardless of mating during autumn.
Keywords
Erythrolamprus miliaris;  histology;  oviduct;  sperm storage receptacle;  ultrastructure

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Rojas CA, Barros VA, Almeida-Santos SM. A histological and ultrastructural investigation of the female reproductive system of the water snake (Erythrolamprus miliaris): oviductal cycle and sperm storage. Acta Zool.. 2019 Jan;100(1):69-80. doi:10.1111/azo.12234.
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