Life and Medical Sciences
Cell & Developmental Biology
Wiley InterScience Backfile Collection 1832-2000
The transport of sperm in the cloaca and adjacent regions of the female red-spotted newt was examined. It was found that within 1 min after sperm were introduced into the vent, they progressed in a random pattern past the apertures of the spermatheca (the gladular, sperm storage organ that opens from the anterior roof of the cloaca) forward to the anterior end of the cloaca and on into the posterior regions of the hindgut and bladder. Sperm did not enter the dorsal recess of the cloaca into which the oviducts and ureters open. After 1 day, few sperm remained within the cloaca lumen. Sperm were not transported into the cloacae of artifically inseminated, anesthetized females without prior administration of norepinephrine to their cloacal mounds. Treatment of the cloacal mounds of naturally inseminated females with an antagonist of neuromuscular transmission (lidocaine) decreased the numbers of sperm in the anterior cloaca relative to those of saline-injected control specimens. Neither dead newt sperm nor live rabbit sperm entered the spermatheca. Rabbit sperm, however, entered the oviduct. It is argued that passive and active mechanisms of sperm transport work in concert. Contractions of smooth muscle, which may be initiated during courtship, probably serve to draw sperm passively into the cloaca and up to and beyond the apertures of spermathecal tubules, but sperm, once in the vicinity of those apertures, probably swim actively into them.
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