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Interspecific variation of sperm morphology in the Australian rodent genus Zyzomys

Blackwell Publishing


The sperm head morphology and tail length of two species of Australian rock rats, Zyzomys argurus and Zyzomys pedunculatus, are presented. In Z. argurus the sperm head has an apical hook together with two ventral processes extending from the upper concave surface that are largely composed of cytoskeletal material, and the sperm tail is about 135 μm in length. By contrast, in Z. pedunculatus the sperm head is paddle-shaped with the nucleus capped by an acrosome that has a large apical segment and is surrounded by a thin layer of cytoskeletal material, and the sperm tail is only around 85 μm in length. Since the structure of the spermatozoon of Z. argurus is similar to that of most of the old endemic Australian rodents it is presumed to be the ancestral condition within the Zyzomys genus with that of Z. pedunculatus being highly derived and showing convergence with the sperm structure in some other orders of mammals.

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