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Comparative morphology of the internal female genitalia in two species of Mantophasmatodea

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The female internal reproductive anatomy of two mantophasmatodean species, Karoophasma biedouwense and Viridiphasma clanwilliamense, is described in detail using X-ray micro-computed tomography, light microscopy, and scanning electron microscopy. We identified paired ovaries containing panoistic ovarioles, a spermatheca surrounded by an epithelium of glandular structure, together with a spermathecal duct surrounded by muscle cells. Tubular accessory glands, which are present in many insects, are missing throughout the female genital tract of heelwalkers. Therefore, we suggest that the gland cells included in the epithelium of the ventral genital chamber of heelwalkers produce the secretions used for building egg pods in which eggs and sand are glued together. The two species investigated differ in the number of ovarioles per ovary and in the shape of their spermatheca. This investigation adds to the scarce information on mantophasmatodean internal genitalia and provides a basis for further research on reproductive behavior in heelwalkers.

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We would like to thank Dr. Jakob Krieger for conducting the macro-scan and assistance in micro-photography, and Anja Junghanns for advice during paraffin embedding and sectioning. We also thank Stefan Bock from the imaging center Greifswald for assistance with SEM, and Philip M. Steinhoff for advice concerning CPD and AMIRA handling. We thank Mike D. Picker for providing photographs of an egg-laying female and egg pods. Cape Nature is thanked for permit AAA007-00020-0035 to collect Mantophasmatodea. This work was funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG EB533/2-1; DFG INST 292/119-1 FUGG; DFG INST 292/120-1 FUGG).

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Correspondence to M. J. B. Eberhard.

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Küpper, S.C., Klass, KD., Uhl, G. et al. Comparative morphology of the internal female genitalia in two species of Mantophasmatodea. Zoomorphology 138, 73–83 (2019).

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