a1 Department of Zoology, University of Kerala, Kariavattom 695 581, Thiruvananthapuram, India.
a2 Department of Animal Science, School of Life Sciences, Bharathidasan University, Thiruchirappalli 620 024, India.
Though much is known about various aspects of reproductive biology of amphibia, there is little information on the cellular and mechanistic basis of assembly of ovarian follicles in this group. This is especially true of the caecilians. Therefore, taking advantage of the abundant distribution of caecilians in the Western Ghats of India, two species of caecilians, Ichthyophis tricolor and Gegeneophis ramaswamii, were subjected to light and transmission electron microscopic analysis to trace the sequential changes during the assembly of ovarian follicles. The paired ovaries of these caecilians are elongated sac-like structures each including numerous vitellogenic follicles. The follicles are connected by a connective tissue stroma. This stroma contains nests of oogonia, primary oocytes and pregranulosa cells as spatially separated nests. During assembly of follicles the oocytes increase in size and enter the meiotic prophase when the number of nucleoli in the nucleus increases. The mitochondrial cloud or Balbiani vitelline body, initially localized at one pole of the nucleus, disperses through out the cytoplasm subsequently. Synaptonemal complexes are prominent in the pachytene stage oocytes. The pregranulosa cells migrate through the connective tissue fibrils of the stroma and arrive at the vicinity of the meiotic prophase oocytes. On contacting the oocyte, the pregranulosa cells become cuboidal in shape, wrap the diplotene stage oocyte as a discontinuous layer and increase the content of cytoplasmic organelles and inclusions. The oocytes increase in size and are arrested in diplotene when the granulosa cells become flat and form a continuous layer. Soon a perivitelline space appears between the oolemma and granulosa cells, completing the process of assembly of follicles. Thus, the events in the establishment of follicles in the caecilian ovary are described.
(Received October 09 2006)
(Accepted January 29 2007)