Comparative investigation of the genital systems in the Opisthobranchia (Mollusca, Gastropoda) with special emphasis on the nidamental glandular system
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The reproductive systems and especially the nidamental glands of 20 species of Opisthobranchia belonging to the ”Cephalaspidea s. l.”, Anaspidea, Sacoglossa, Tylodinoidea and Pleurobranchoidea, have been investigated histologically and ultrastructurally. The nidamental glandular system is responsible for the formation of the egg masses. In all investigated species it is divided into three distinct parts. The most proximal part can be an albumen gland (some ”Cephalaspidea s. l.”, Anaspidea and Sacoglossa) or can exhibit a capsule gland (some ”Cephalaspidea s. l.”, Tylodinoidea and Pleurobranchoidea). All species additionally possess a membrane gland and a distally lying mucous gland. In some species the most distal part of the oviduct was also found to be glandular. The structure of the nidamental glands is described and compared within the Opisthobranchia. Albumen and capsule glands are found to be homologous glandular parts of the system. It can be concluded that the albumen gland has undergone a structural and functional change within the evolution of the Opisthobranchia.
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