Morphology of follicle cells of Libellulidae (Odonata)


In libellulids, mature oocyte size varies within and between individual ovaries. The regulating mechanism is not yet understood. Variations in the contents of the follicle cells, and thereby their ability to secrete material into the oocyte, might explain some of the observed differences in oocyte size. We therefore investigated the follicle cell surface, the interstitial space width between follicle cells and between follicle cells and oocytes, the number of nuclei, and the cell compartment proportions using scanning and transmission electron microscopy. In all investigated species, the follicle cells were covered by a basal lamina. We found cytoplasmic microvilli and septate junctions. As we could not find any pores or other structures on the cell surface, endocytosis seems to be the only mechanism transporting material into the follicle cells. Larger follicle cells had larger interstitial gaps between follicle cells and oocytes, larger nuclei and a larger mitochondrial area. Larger interstitial spaces between follicle cells and oocytes may afford more room that can be filled with material from the follicle cell layer. More mitochondria could provide more energy/ATP needed for the transport of the material. The quantity of free ribosomes and the mean number of nuclei seemed to be even more important to the productivity of the follicle cell. All these variations in cell contents cause productivity differences among follicle cells and may explain some of the size differences between oocytes within individual ovaries in libellulids.

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