, Volume 122, Issue 4, pp 211–220 | Cite as

Sperm structure of Mecoptera and Siphonaptera (Insecta) and the phylogenetic position of Boreus hyemalis

  • Romano Dallai
  • Pietro Lupetti
  • Björn A. Afzelius
  • Francesco Frati
Original Article


Sperm ultrastructure has been studied in three species of the taxa Mecoptera and Siphonaptera. The spermatozoon of the scorpion fly Panorpa germanica shows an apical bilayered acrosome, a helicoidal nucleus, a centriolar region and a 9+2 flagellar axoneme helicoidally arranged around a long mitochondrial derivative. A second mitochondrial derivative is very short and present only in the centriolar region. A single accessory body is present and it is clearly formed as a prolongation of the centriole adjunct material. Two lateral lamellae run parallel to the nucleus. The snow fly Boreus hyemalis has a conventional sperm structure and shows a bilayered acrosome, a long nucleus, a centriolar region, two mitochondrial derivatives and two accessory bodies. The axoneme is of the 9+2 type and is flattened at the tail tip. Both P. germanica and B. hyemalis have two longitudinal extra-axonemal rods and have a glycocalyx consisting of longitudinal parallel ridges or filaments. The spermatozoon of the flea Ctenocephalides canis has a long apical bilayered acrosome, a nucleus, a centriolar region, a 9+2 axoneme wound around two unequally sized mitochondrial derivatives, and two triangular accessory bodies. In the posterior tail end the flagellar axoneme disorganises and a few microtubular doublets run helicoidally around the remnant mitochondrial derivative. The glycocalyx consists of fine transverse striations. In all three species, the posterior tail tip is characterised by a dense matrix embedding the disorganised axoneme. From this comparative analysis of the sperm structure it is concluded that Mecoptera, as traditionally defined, is monophyletic and that B. hyemalis is a member of Mecoptera rather than of Siphonaptera.


Insect spermatozoa Insect ultrastructure Insect phylogeny 



We thank Prof. S. Bilinski, University of Krakow (Poland), who kindly provided fixed material of Boreus hyemalis. This research was supported by a grant to R.D. from MIUR COFIN.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Romano Dallai
    • 1
  • Pietro Lupetti
    • 1
  • Björn A. Afzelius
    • 2
  • Francesco Frati
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of SienaSienaItaly
  2. 2.Department of Ultrastructure Research, Arrhenius Laboratories F3Stockholm UniversityStockholmSweden

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