Histochemical and electron microscope observations on the reproductive tract of Biomphalaria glabrata (Australorbis glabratus), intermediate host of Schistosoma mansoni

Research paper by Marijke de Jong-Brink

Indexed on: 01 Dec '69Published on: 01 Dec '69Published in: Cell and Tissue Research


The reproductive tract including the accessory sex glands of Biomphalaria glabrata have been studied by use of histochemical and electron microscope techniques.The hermaphroditic part consists of glycogen containing ciliated cells. In the sparsely ciliated “secretory cells” of the vesiculae seminales, diverticula of the hermaphroditic duct, sperms are absorbed and destructed intracellularly. The observations suggest that this is a cyclic process in which lysosomes play an important role.In the female and male part — in the tract as well as in the glands — glycogen storing ciliated cells alternate with secretory cells.The secretory cells of the albumen gland produce galactogen and proteins. In the rest of the female part nine different secretory cell types could be distinguished on the basis of their location, the histochemical nature of the products — sulphated and non sulphated acid-mucopolysaccharides, glyco- or muco-proteins and neutral polysaccharides — and the ultrastructure of the cells. These histological findings account for the five divisions of the female tract: 1. oviduct, 2. muciparous gland, 3. oöthecal gland, 4. uterus and 5. vagina.The ultrastructure of the cells of the bursa copulatrix suggests the production of hydrolizing enzymes for the extracellular destruction of superfluous sperms obtained by copulation.In the spermduct and prostate gland seven different secretory cell types were found. Each cell type has its special location and ultrastructure. They produce mainly lipoproteins except for one of the cell types the product of which remained obscure.The electron microscope observations on the penial complex revealed striking pinocytosis and loosening of the epithelium from the basement membrane in special area's. It is suggested that these phenomena play a role in erection.