Ptiliid Spermatozoa

W. Eugene Hall

One interesting aspect of ptiliid reproduction is that of sperm morphology. Spermatozoa within Ptiliidae vary greatly in size and design, and have proven to be useful characters when determining and defining species.

Dybas and Dybas (1981, 1987) illustrate how sperm and spermatheca designs have co-evolved within the genus Bambara. Certain spermathecal designs are only capable of accepting sperm of particular length and morphology. The authors also demonstrate how diagnostic characters of Bambara spermatozoa provide useful characters for identifying species.

Taylor (1982) reports that the sperm of Ptinella aptera is approximately 1.4 mm in length, twice as long as the adult beetle.

Baccetti and De Coninck (1989) describe "the first aflagellate and immotile Coleopteran spermatozoon", which lack mitochondria, flagellum and centrioles. Spermatozoa of this type are noted to occur in species of Acrotrichis.


Bacetti, B. and E. DeConnick. 1989. Immotile, aflagellate spermatozoa in Ptiliidae coleopterans. Biology of the Cell 67: 185-191.

Dybas, L.K. and H.S. 1981. Coadaptation and taxonomic differentiation of sperm and spermathecae in featherwing beetles. Evolution 34(1): 168-174.

Dybas, L.K. and H.S. 1987. Ultrastructure of mature spermatozoa of a minute featherwing beetle from Sri Lanka (Coleoptera: Ptiliidae: Bambara). Journal of Morphology 191: 63-67.

Taylor, V., B.M. Luke and W.J. Dobson. 1982. The giant sperm of a minute beetle. Tissue and Cell 14: 113-123.

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University of Arizona

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