Comparative ultrastructure of ant spermatozoa (formicidae: Hymenoptera)

Diana E. Wheeler, Elizabeth G. Crichton, Philip H. Krutzsch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Mature spermatozoa from spermathecae of founding queens were obtained from 5 species of ants, representing the major subfamilies Myrmicinae (Acromyrmex versicolor, Crematogaster sp.) and Dolichoderinae (Tapinoma sessile, Conomyrma insana, Conomyrma wheeleri). The ultrastructure of ant spermatozoa has many features in common with that of higher insects and is similar to that of other Hymenoptera. Structural similarities to spermatozoa of other Hymenoptera include an acrosome containing an internal rod that extends into the nucleus, two elongate mitochondrial derivatives, a centriolar adjunct, and an axonemal arrangement of 9 + 9 + 2 that includes well‐developed coarse, or accessory, tubules. Spermatozoa obtained from A. versicolor, a species that is known to store and utilize viable sperm from this supply for over 10 years, show greater development of the mitochondrial derivatives than do the other species. The most distinctive feature of ant spermatozoa in comparison to other Hymenoptera is the large size of the centriolar adjunct relative to the other organelles. The centriolar adjunct is located posterior to the nucleus, anterior to the mitochondrial derivatives, and opposite the axoneme.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)343-350
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Morphology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Developmental Biology


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