Observations on gonad morphology and the structure of ovaries and testes of the coronate scyphozoans Atolla wyvillei and Periphylla periphylla are described based on samples collected from the Gulf of Mexico and Cape Hatteras (north-western Atlantic). In A. wyvillei, gonads of distinguishable sex were observed in medusae as small as 17 mm bell diameter (BD). Spermatogenesis occurred within follicles (average 366 × 254 μm) that were evenly distributed throughout the gonad. Oocytes in different stages of development were observed in all the females with gonads. Oocytes arise from the gastrodermis and migrate into the mesoglea to develop from early-mid to late vitellogenic oocytes characterized by a large nucleus and granular (organic-rich) cytoplasm. The largest oocytes measured were 543 μm and 263 μm from the Gulf of Mexico and Cape Hatteras respectively. Possible reasons for this difference are discussed. In P. periphylla gonads were also initially observed in medusae 17 mm BD, although not all larger medusae had obvious gonads. Unlike A. wyvillei sperm follicles were arranged in long convoluted rows normally only one follicle thick. The organization of ooytes in female P. periphylla was very similar to A. wyvillei, although the gonads were small and the number of oocytes present in each gonad very low (<22). The largest oocyte measured was 777 μm in a 53 mm BD medusa. Although medusae were collected from one time period only (September) in this study, our findings appear to be in agreement with literature evidence indicating that coronate jellyfish produce few eggs continuously over a long time period. Aspects of gonad development and gametogenesis are discussed with respect to potential differences in site productivity and species identification.
(Received January 29 2009)
(Accepted March 04 2009)
(Online publication November 03 2009)
c1 Correspondence should be addressed to: C.H. Lucas, School of Ocean & Earth Science, University of Southampton, National Oceanography Centre, European Way, Southampton, SO14 3ZH, UK email: email@example.com