Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

The male genital system of the cellar spider Pholcus phalangioides (Fuesslin, 1775) (Pholcidae, Araneae): development of spermatozoa and seminal secretion

By Peter Michalik and Gabriele Uhl


BACKGROUND: Most arthropods pass through several molting stages (instars) before reaching sexual maturity. In spiders, very little is known about the male genital system, its development and seminal secretions. For example, it is unknown whether spermatozoa exist prior to-, or only after the final molt. Likewise, it is unclear whether sperm are produced throughout male adulthood or only once in a lifetime, as is whether seminal secretions contain factors capable of manipulating female behavior. In order to shed light on these aspects of the reproductive biology of spiders, we investigated the male genital system of the common cellar spider Pholcus phalangioides, with special emphasis on its development and seminal secretions. RESULTS: Testes already display all stages of spermatogenesis in subadult males (about four weeks before the final molt). Their vasa deferentia possess proximally a very voluminous lumen containing dense seminal fluid and few spermatozoa, whereas the distal part is seemingly devoid of contents. Spermatoza of P. phalangioides are typical cleistospermia with individual secretion sheaths. In male stages approximately two weeks prior to the final molt, the lumina of the testes are wider and filled with a dense secretion. The wide, proximal portion of the vasa deferentia is filled with secretion and a large number of spermatozoa, and the narrow distal part also contains secretion. In adult males, the wide lumina of the testes are packed with spermatozoa and secretions. The latter are produced by the somatic cells that bear microvilli and contain many vesicles. The lumina of the vasa deferentia are narrow and filled with spermatozoa and secretions. We could identify a dense matrix of secretion consisting of mucosubstances and at least three types of secretion droplets, likely consisting of proteinaceous substances. CONCLUSION: This study reveals that spermatogenesis begins weeks before maturity and takes place continuously in the long-lived males of P. phalangioides. Possible functions of the various types of secretion in the seminal fluid and previously investigated female secretions are discussed in the light of sexual selection

Topics: Research
Publisher: BioMed Central
Year: 2005
DOI identifier: 10.1186/1742-9994-2-12
OAI identifier:
Provided by: PubMed Central

Suggested articles


  1. (1969). A low-viscosity epoxy resin embedding medium for electron microscopy.
  2. (1938). A modification of the Masson trichrome technique for routine laboratory purposes.
  3. (1996). Alberti G: Glands in the male palpal organ and the origin of the mating plug in Amaurobius species (Araneae: Amaurobiidae). Zool Anz
  4. (1980). Alcoholic Bouin fixation of insect nervous systems for Bodian silver staining. II. Modified solutions. Stain Technol
  5. (1933). An inquiry into the natural classification of spiders, based on a study of their internal anatomy. T Connecticut Acad Arts Sci
  6. (1905). Beiträge zur Kenntnis der Spermatogenese bei den Arachnoiden. Zool Jb Anat
  7. (1910). Beiträge zur Kenntnis der weiblichen Kopulationsorgane einiger Spinnen. Z Wiss Zool
  8. (1996). Biology of Spiders
  9. (1976). Boissin L: La spermatide d'Holocnemus pluchei (Scop.) (Arachnida, Araneida, Pholcidae): Étude ultrastructurale. Bull Soc Zool France
  10. (2003). CJ: Female life span and fertility are increased by the ejaculates of preferred males. Evolution
  11. (1951). Die grobe Morphologie des männlichen Genitalapparates einiger Araneen. Dtsch Zool Z
  12. Einige Beobachtungen über die Spermatogenese bei den Spinnen.
  13. (1988). Emerit M: New data on the epigastric apparatus of male spiders. Bull Br arachnol Soc
  14. (2004). Evolutionary transformation from muscular to hydraulic movements in spider (Arachnida, Araneae) genitalia: a study based on histological serial sections.
  15. (1985). Fine structure of spermatozoa of some labidognath spiders (Filistatidae, Segestriidae, Dysderidae, Oonopidae, Scytodidae, Pholcidae; Araneae; Arachnida) with remarks on spermiogenesis.
  16. (1994). Genital morphology and sperm storage
  17. (2005). Genital structures in the entelegyne widow spider Latrodectus revivensis (Arachnida; Araneae; Theridiidae) indicate a low ability for cryptic female choice by sperm manipulation.
  18. (1974). Glandes épigastrique et classification des araneides. Bull Ass Anat Paris
  19. Glandular aspects of sexual biology.
  20. (2003). High species diversity in one of the dominant groups of spiders in east african montane forests (Araneae: Pholcidae: Buitinga n. sp., Spermophora Hentz). Zool J Linn Soc
  21. In Microscopic anatomy of invertebrates Volume 8A. Edited by: Harrison FW, Foelix RF.
  22. (1983). JM: Observation on the structure and function of spermathecae in haplogyne spiders. Trans Am Microsc Soc
  23. (1985). Juberthie-Jupeau L: Ultrastructure compare du tube séminifére chez les males d'araignées. Mém Biospéol
  24. Limits to male copulation frequency: sexual cannibalism and sterility in St Andrew's Cross spiders (Araneae, Araneidae). Ethology
  25. (2001). Male accessory gland derived factors can stimulate oogenesis and enhance oviposition in Helicoverpa armigera (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae). Arch Insect Biochem Physiol
  26. (2003). Male accessory gland secretions: Modulators of female reproductive physiology and behavior. Ann Rev Entomol
  27. (1984). Male Spider Genitalia: Evolutionary Changes in Structure and Function. Verh Naturwissenschaftl Ver Hamburg
  28. (1993). Mating behaviour and female sperm storage in Pholcus phalangioides (Fuesslin) (Araneae). Memoirs of the Queensland Museum
  29. (1998). Mating in Theridion varians Hahn and related species (Araneae: Theridiidae).
  30. (1989). Mikroskopische Technik München: Urban und Schwarzenberg;
  31. (1993). MJ: Ultrastructure of the testis in the spider, Pardosa astrigera
  32. (2004). On the occurrence of coenospermia in mesothelid spiders (Araneae: Heptathelidae). Arthropod Struct Dev
  33. (2004). SJ: Functions and analysis of the seminal fluid proteins of male Drosophila melanogaster fruit flies. Peptides
  34. (1986). SM: Ultrastructure of spermatozoa and spermatogenesis in bird spiders
  35. (1993). Sperm storage and repeated egg production in female Pholcus phalangioides Fuesslin (Araneae). Bull Soc Neuchâteloise Sci Nat
  36. (1996). Sperm storage secretion of female cellar spiders (Pholcus phalangioides: Araneae): Agel-electrophoretic analysis.
  37. (1995). The axoneme of the spider spermatozoon. Boll Zool
  38. (2005). The female genital system of the folding-trapdoor spider Antrodiaetus unicolor (Hentz, 1842) (Antrodiaetidae, Araneae) – an ultrastructural study of form and function with notes on reproductive biology of spiders.
  39. (2002). The gifts that keep on giving: physiological functions and evolutionary dynamics of male seminal proteins in Drosophila. Heredity
  40. (2003). The Mesothelae – a monograph of an exceptional group of spiders (Araneae: Mesothelae). Zoologica
  41. (1976). The role of male accessory glands in insect reproduction. Ann Rev Entomol
  42. The spermatozoa and spermiogenesis of Holocnemus pluchei (Scopoli, 1763) (Pholcidae, Araneae).
  43. The spermatozoon of Arthropoda. X. Araneids and the lowest Myriapods.
  44. (1967). The spinnerets and epiandrous glands of spiders.
  45. (2004). The ultrastructure of the peculiar synspermia of some Dysderidae (Araneae, Arachnida). Tissue Cell
  46. (1963). The use of lead citrate at high pH as an electronopaque stain in electron microscopy.
  47. (1997). Tokens of love: functions and regulation of Drosophila male accessory gland products. Insect Biochem Mol Biol
  48. Ueber den Generationsapparat der Araneiden.
  49. (1994). Ultrastructural observations of spermatozoa and spermiogenesis in Wandella orana Gray,
  50. (2005). Ultrastructural observations of spermatozoa of some tetragnathid spiders and their phylogenetic implications (Araneae,
  51. (1994). Ultrastructure of the accessory glands in female genitalia of Pholcus phalangioides (Fuesslin, 1771) (Pholcidae; Araneae). Acta Zool Stockholm
  52. (2003). Ultrastructure of the male reproductive accessory glands in the medfly Ceratitis capitata (Diptera: Tephritidae) and preliminary characterization of their secretions. Arthropod Struct Dev
  53. (2002). Vacquier VD: Reproductive protein evolution. Ann Rev Ecol Syst
  54. (1964). Zur Biologie der Vogelspinnen (Fam.

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.