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Regional specialization of the sperm membrane in the tick Amblyomma hebraeum koch (Acari: Ixodidae)

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The spermatozoon of Amblyomma hebraeum is about 200 μm long and comprises: (1) a thick, club-shaped anterior part, about 20 μm long bearing at its apex a “tactile” hemisphere, and (2) an elongated tail-like part, about 180 μm long. The surface of the “tactile” hemisphere is covered by numerous bulbous expansions, attached to it by short stalks. The base of the hemisphere is surrounded by a fringe of thin motile processes; the remaining surface of the spermatozoon is covered with long cellular processes which run more or less parallel to one another.

The membrane-associated particles found on the membrane beneath the cellular processes are regularly arranged as groups of parallel strands. The external surface of the so-called “peripheral granules”, as revealed by freeze-etching, is smooth with a very small number of particles. Internally the particles exhibit a regular hexagonal pattern which has not been observed, so far, on any other membrane of these sperm cells.

The regional specialization of the spermatozoon surface membrane in relation to sperm motility is discussed. The results obtained indicate that processes of three types: (1) bulbous expansions, (2) motile processes, and (3) cellular processes are regional specializations, all engaged in aspects of sperm motility.

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Correspondence to Dr. Zdzislaw Swiderski.

Additional information

The technical assistance of Mr. R. Haemmerle of Balzers Research Laboratories, Mrs. F. Seif and Miss C. Pugin, is gratefully acknowledged

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El Said, A., Swiderski, Z. Regional specialization of the sperm membrane in the tick Amblyomma hebraeum koch (Acari: Ixodidae). Cell Tissue Res. 208, 35–45 (1980).

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Key words

  • Tick spermatozoa
  • Membrane specialization
  • Sperm motility