Reproductive patterns: sperm storage and placentation in Crotalus durissus and Bothrops jararaca (Serpentes: Viperidae)

by de Almeida-Santos, Selma Maria

Abstract (Summary)
The neotropical pitvipers Crotalus durissus and Bothrops jararaca show a sazonal reproductive cycle with an active stage of follicular development (vitellogenesis Type II) in late austral autumn and winter. Mating occurs in early to middle autumn (March to May) and gestation occurs in spring up to early summer when birth takes place (December up to March). After parturition snakes show a follicular quiescence which prevents them to reproduce in the following season of the same year. Therefore they skip one reproductive season characterizing a biennial reproductive cycle. Morphology of the reproductive tracts in both species showed the presence of unpaired ovaries and oviducts. Each oviduct is divided in four distinct regions, namely infundibulum, posterior and anterior uterus, and vagina. The lack of synchrony between vitellogenesis and fertlization, makes female store sperm obligatory. Sperm storage in both snakes occurs in the posterior portion of the uterus by means of a uterine muscle contraction and convolution. Morphological studies of the oviduct of jararaca and rattlesnakes combining the use of LM, TEM and SEM has never been carried out before. Macroscopical anatomy of the uterus after mating is characterized by convolution and contraction of the longitudinal smooth musculature which formed a spiral. The uterus remains visibly convoluted until ovulation occurs in September (early spring). Embryo development occurs in the uterus; each egg or embryo is isolated by a uterine short constricted segment that probably works as an implantation chamber like a placenta. The intimate apposition of the uterine lining with the chorioallantois indicates that the placenta is epitheliochorial type. The allantoplacenta, in both species develop folds in uterine and embryonic epithelia characterizing the second category of placenta (Type II). In both the species the oviduct has demonstrated to be an organ capable of some different functions such as sperm retaining and storage, egg uptake and transport, fertilization, maintenance of the embryo (uterine gestation and placentation) and parturition. Males of Bothrops and Crotalus show two elongated testes which communicate bilaterally with the cloaca through the coiled deferent ducts. The largest diameter of deferent ducto, was observed in summer and autumn, due to intense spermiogenesis, just before the mating season. In both species an increase in size of the testes was observed in spring and summer probably related with seasonal spermatogenesis, which is asynchronous in relation to mating (autumn). All these physiological and morphological strategies both in male and female B. jararaca and C. Durissus promote simultaneous liberation of gamets in early spring (september), in such a way to make reproductive cycle harmonic in these crotaline pitvipers.
This document abstract is also available in Portuguese.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:Antonio Marcos Orsi; Francisco Javier Hernandez Blazquez; Carlos Alberto Goncalves Silva Jared; Otavio Augusto Vuolo Marques; Paula de Carvalho Papa; Antonio Marcos Orsi

School:Universidade de São Paulo

School Location:Brazil

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:Animal reproduction Placenta Seasonal Snakes Storage sperm


Date of Publication:08/02/2005

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