, Volume 250, Issue 4, pp 833–850 | Cite as

Sperm ultrastructure in the diatoms Melosira and Thalassiosira and the significance of the 9 + 0 configuration

  • Masahiko Idei
  • Keigo Osada
  • Shinya Sato
  • Takeshi Nakayama
  • Tamotsu Nagumo
  • David G. Mann
Original Article


The most complete account to date of the ultrastructure of flagellate cells in diatoms is given for the sperm of Thalassiosira lacustris and Melosira moniliformis var. octogona, based on serial sections. The sperm are uniflagellate, with no trace of a second basal body, and possess a 9 + 0 axoneme. The significance of the 9 + 0 configuration is discussed: lack of the central pair microtubules and radial spokes does not compromise the mastigoneme-bearing flagellum’s capacity to perform planar beats and thrust reversal and may perhaps be related to sensory/secretory function of the sperm flagellum during plasmogamy. The basal bodies of diatoms are confirmed to contain doublets rather than triplets, which may correlate with the absence of some centriolar proteins found in most cells producing active flagella. Whereas Melosira possesses a normal cartwheel structure in the long basal body, no such structure is present in Thalassiosira, which instead possesses ‘intercalary fibres’ linking the basal body doublets. No transitional helices or transitional plates are present in either species studied. Cones of microtubules are associated with the basal body and partially enclose the nucleus in M. moniliformis and T. lacustris. They do not appear to be true microtubular roots and may arise through transformation of the meiosis II spindle. A close association between cone microtubules and tubules containing mastigonemes may indicate a function in intracellular mastigoneme transport. No correlation can yet be detected between methods of spermatogenesis and phylogeny in diatoms, contrary to previous suggestions.


9 + 0 configuration Basal bodies Diatoms Flagellar ultrastructure Mastigonemes Sperm 



We thank Dr. I. Inouye (Tsukuba University) for his helpful suggestions about sectioning and TEM observation. We also thank to Dr. K. Hasegawa and Dr. K. Ogane for the contribution to digitisation of films.

Supplementary material

709_2012_465_MOESM2_ESM.psd (1.7 mb)
Supplementary Fig. 1 Selected serial transverse sections from the flagellum to the basal body in Melosira moniliformis var. octogona. TEM. ae Enlargements of Fig. 8b, c, e, k and n, respectively. Scale bar = 200 nm (in a) (PSD 1791 kb)

(MPG 5632 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Masahiko Idei
    • 1
  • Keigo Osada
    • 2
  • Shinya Sato
    • 3
  • Takeshi Nakayama
    • 5
  • Tamotsu Nagumo
    • 4
  • David G. Mann
    • 3
  1. 1.Bunkyo UniversityKoshigaya, SaitamaJapan
  2. 2.Department of BiologyThe Nippon Dental University, School of Life Dentistry at NiigataNiigataJapan
  3. 3.Royal Botanic Garden EdinburghEdinburghUK
  4. 4.Department of BiologyThe Nippon Dental UniversityTokyoJapan
  5. 5.Graduate School of Life and Environmental SciencesUniversity of TsukubaTsukubaJapan

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