Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Alteration of cytochrome C oxidase activity during spermatogenesis in Carcinus maenas

  • 22 Accesses

  • 15 Citations


During spermatogenesis in the crab, Carcinus maenas, mitochondria in the developing spermatids degenerate. In close association with mitochondrial fragments in late spermatids, an elaborate lattice-like complex of fused membranes is formed and lies in a position adjacent to the acrosome. Mature sperm possess no mitochondria, but a whorl of membranes is present alongside the acrosome in the diffuse nucleus.

To ascertain whether or not cytochrome c oxidase activity is lost as the mitochondria disintegrate, differentiating Carcinus maenas spermatids and mature sperm have been studied cytochemically. Cytochrome c oxidase activity was localised by means of the osmophilic compound 3,3′-diaminobenzidine (DAB).

Cytochrome c oxidase activity is confined to the cristae of mitochondria in the testis. As spermatids mature most mitochondria are lost. A few mitochondrial fragments may be caught up within the lamellar complex. While they are recognisable as mitochondria they retain cytochrome c oxidase activity. The lamellar complex does not show this enzyme activity. These results therefore suggest that the mature sperm of Carcinus maenas do not contain the enzymes normally incorporated in the mitochondrial membrane, capable of oxidative phosphorylation.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Anderson, W.A.: The localisation of cytochrome c oxidase activity during mitochondrial specialisation in spermiogenesis of prosobranch snails. J. Histochem. Cytochem. 18, 201–210 (1970)

  2. Anderson, W.A., Ellis, R.A.: Cytodifferentiation of the crayfish spermatozoon: acrosome formation, transformation of mitochondria and development of microtubules. Z. Zellforsch. 77, 80–94 (1967)

  3. André, J.: Contribution à la connaissance du chondriome. J. Ultrastruct. Res., Suppl. 3 (1962)

  4. Binford, R.: The germ cells and the process of fertilization in crab, Menippe mercenaria. J. Morph. 24, 147 (1913)

  5. Fasten, N.: Spermatogenesis of Pacific coast edible crab, Cancer magister. Biol. Bull. 3, 277 (1918)

  6. Hinsch, G.W.: Sperm structure in Oxyrhyncha. Canad. J. Zool. 51, 421–426 (1973)

  7. Karnovsky, M.J.: A formaldehyde-glutaraldehyde fixative of high osmolarity for use in electron microscopy. J. Cell Biol. 27, 137 A (1965)

  8. Kaye, G.I., Pappas, G.D., Yasuzumi, G., Yamomoto, H.: Distribution and form of the endoplasmic reticulum during spermatogenesis in crayfish, Cambaroides japonicus. Z. Zellforsch. 53, 159–171 (1961)

  9. Koltzoff, N.K.: Studien über die Gestalt der Zelle. I. Untersuchungen über die Spermien der Decapoden. Arch. mikr. Anat. 67, 364 (1906)

  10. Langreth, S.G.: Spermiogenesis in Cancer crabs. J. Cell Biol. 43, 575–603 (1969)

  11. McCroan, J.E.: Spermatogenesis of the crayfish Cambarus virilis, with special reference to the Golgi material and mitochondria. Cytologia (Tokyo) 11, 137–155 (1940)

  12. Moses, M.J.: Studies on nuclei using correlated cytochemical, light, and electron microscope techniques. J. biophys. biochem. Cytol., Suppl. 2, 397 (1956)

  13. Moses, M.J.: Spermiogenesis in crayfish (Procambarus clarkii). I. Structural characterisation of the mature sperm. J. biophys. biochem. Cytol. 9, 222 (1961a). II. Description of stages. J. biophys. biochem. Cytol. 10, 301 (1961 b)

  14. Nath, V.: Cytology of spermatogenesis. Int. Rev. Cytol. 5, 395 (1956)

  15. Pochon-Masson, J.: L'ultrastructure des spermatozoides vésiculaires chez Crustacés Decapodes avant et au cours de leur dévagination expérimentales. I. Brachyoures et Anomoures. Ann. Sci. Natur. Zool. Biol. Anim., Ser. 12, 10, 1–100 (1968)

  16. Reynolds, E.S.: The use of lead citrate at high pH as an electron-opaque stain in electron microscopy. J. Cell Biol. 17, 208–212 (1963)

  17. Seligman, A.M., Karnovsky, M.J., Wasserkrug, H., Hanker, J.S.: Non droplet ultrastructural demonstration of cytochrome oxidase activity with a polymerising osmophilic reagent, diaminobenzidine (DAB). J. Cell Biol. 38, 1 (1968)

  18. Spurr, A.R.: A low-viscosity epoxy-resin embedding medium for electron microscopy. J. Ultrastruct. Res. 26, 31–43 (1969)

  19. Walker, M.H., Macgregor, H.C.: Spermatogenesis and the structure of the mature sperm in Nucella lapillus (L). J. Cell Sci. 3, 95–104 (1968)

  20. Yasuzumi, G.: Spermatogenesis in animals as revealed by electron microscopy. VII. Spermatid differentiation in crab, Eriocheir japonicus. J. biophys. biochem. Cytol. 7, 73 (1960)

  21. Yasuzumi, G., Kaye, G.I., Pappas, G. D., Yamamoto, H., Tsubo, I.: Nuclear and cytoplasmic differentiation in developing sperm of crayfish, Cambaroides japonicus. Z. Zellforsch. 53, 141–158 (1961)

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to Dr. Muriel H. Walker.

Additional information

We should like to thank Mrs. Carol Orme for technical assistance.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Pearson, P.J., Walker, M.H. Alteration of cytochrome C oxidase activity during spermatogenesis in Carcinus maenas . Cell Tissue Res. 164, 401–410 (1975). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00223017

Download citation

Key Words

  • Sperm
  • Cytochrome c oxidase
  • Decapod