The spermatozoon ultrastructure of four species of moss-dwelling Heterotardigrada belonging to four genera of Echiniscidae, namely Pseudechiniscus juanitae, Echiniscus duboisi, Novechiniscus armadilloides and Antechiniscus parvisentus, was investigated. In all species, the testicular male gamete is similar in morphology and in length. The spermatozoon is made up of along head, consisting of a cylindrical acrosome and an oval or rod-shaped nuclear region which contains a nucleus with osmiophilic and electron-dense chromatin, and a tapering tail, with a 9+2 axoneme. An elongated sack-like structure originates from the posterior part of the head, extending beyond the main axis of the cell and running parallel to the tail. It consists of two parallel tubular regions which sometimes form a strict double helix and contain two voluminous, free mitochondria with unmodified cristae. In addition, a voluminous vesicle is present laterally to the centriole or between the end of the nucleus and the beginning of the mitochondria, limited by two cytomembranes and filled with electron-lucent and granular material. The male gametes representative of these mossdwelling Echiniscidae are very similar to the spermatozoa of the marine Echiniscoididae Echiniscoides sigismundi. This close similarity emphasises that habitat changes have had little influence on the organisation of the sperm cell representative of Echiniscoidea. Spermatozoon characters which could be useful for phylogenetic studies on Tardigrada are discussed.
The spermatozoon of the Echiniscidae (Tardigrada, Heterotardigrada) and its phylogenetic significance / Rebecchi, Lorena; A., Guidi; Bertolani, Roberto. - In: ZOOMORPHOLOGY. - ISSN 0720-213X. - STAMPA. - 122:(2003), pp. 3-9. [10.1007/s00435-002-0066-8]