PloS one

Ultrastructural investigation and in vitro recapitulation of spermatid differentiation in a potential bio-indicator species - The marine invertebrate Galeolaria gemineoa (Polychaeta: Serpulidae).

PMID 28850628


Galeolaria gemineoa is a sessile broadcast-spawning marine invertebrate, whose spermatozoa have been regarded as a sensitive indicator for water quality monitoring. In this study, 10 steps of spermiogenesis have been identified at the ultrastructural level and this differentiation process has been recapitulated in vitro up to the point of spermiogenesis (step 7-9 spermatids). On completion of the second meiosis, newly formed spermatids were detached from the seminiferous epithelium and released to the lumen of each germinal chamber. These spermatids were present in pairs and interconnected by a cytoplasmic bridge throughout the entire spermiogenic process. On the basis of morphological events such as formation of the acrosome, elongation of the flagellum, and condensation of the nucleus, spermiogenesis has been temporally divided into Golgi phase, acrosomal phase and maturation phase. During the Golgi phase, proacrosomal vesicles appeared at the posterior pole of the spermatids and gradually fused into a proacrosomal vacuole. Simultaneously, the distal centriole docked onto the plasma membrane and gave rise to a formative flagellum. The acrosomal phase was characterised by differentiation of the acrosome, condensation of the chromatin and formation of a mitochondrial sheath surrounding the initial portion of the flagellum. During the maturation phase, the fully differentiated acrosome migrated to the anterior pole and excess cytoplasm was extruded from the spermatids in the form of residual bodies. In addition, we successfully induced step 1-3 spermatids to differentiate into the step 7-9 spermatids in both male germinal fluid and 10% foetal bovine serum in RPMI 1640 medium, but failed to replicate this process in female or boiled male germinal fluids. This finding supports our concept that spermatid differentiation in this species is dependent on intrinsic developmental programming and does not require input from accompanying nurse cells.