Ultrastructure of the eggshell and its formation in Planipapillus mundus (onychophora:peripatopsidae)

Jennifer M. Norman, Noel N. Tait

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    12 Citations (Scopus)


    Although the majority of onychophorans are viviparous or ovoviviparous, oviparity has been described in a number of species found exclusively in Australia and New Zealand. Light microscopy and scanning and transmission electron microscopy were used to examine developing eggs and the reproductive tract of the oviparous Planipapillus mundus. Deposited eggs and fully developed eggs dissected from the terminal end of the uteri have an outer thick, slightly opaque chorion, and an inner thin, transparent vitelline membrane. The chorion comprises an outermost extrachorion, sculptured with domes equally spaced over the surface; a middle exochorion, with pores occurring in a pattern of distribution equivalent to that of the domes of the extrachorion above; and an innermost, thick endochorion consisting of a spongelike reticulum of cavities comparable to the respiratory network found in insect eggs. The vitelline membrane lies beneath the chorion, from which it is separated by a fluid-filled space. The vitelline membrane tightly invests the developing egg. Examination of oocytes in the ovary and developing eggs at various stages of passage through the uterus indicate that the majority of chorion deposition occurs in the midregion of the uterus, where vast networks of endoplasmic reticulum are present in the columnar epithelium. The vitelline membrane, however, is believed to begin its development as a primary egg membrane, surrounding the developing oocytes in the ovary. The vitelline membrane is transformed after fertilization, presumably by secretions from the anterior region of the uterus; hence, it should be more accurately referred to as a fertilization membrane. Aspects of the reproductive biology of P. mundus are also included.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1263-1275
    Number of pages13
    JournalJournal of Morphology
    Issue number10
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2008


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