Kinosternon scorpioides is a Brazilian freshwater turtle that belongs to the class Reptilia, encompassing almost 10 000 species. Nevertheless, very little is known about the testicular quantitative parameters, particularly those related to spermatogenesis, in this vertebrate class. Our main objectives were to investigate in detail the structure and function of the testis in K. scorpioides, particularly the aspects related to spermatogenic cycle length and Sertoli cell (SC) and spermatogenic efficiencies. Nine sexually mature turtles were examined, and intraperitoneal bromodeoxyuridine injections were administered to estimate duration of spermatogenesis. Based on the acrosome development in spermatids and the overall germ cell associations, 10 stages of the seminiferous epithelium cycle were characterized. Similar to birds, humans, and some primate species, several stages were observed per seminiferous tubule cross-sections. One spermatogenic cycle and the entire spermatogenic process lasted, respectively, 12 and 53 days. The SC efficiency (number of round spermatids per SC) and daily sperm production per gram of testis were, respectively, 20 and 40 million spermatids. As established for mammals, our findings suggest that SC efficiency is also a critical determinant of sperm production in reptiles. To our knowledge, this is the first study to investigate the kinetics of spermatogenesis and testis function in any reptilian species. Besides allowing a better understanding of reproductive biology in reptiles, these data will be useful in comparative studies. Moreover, these results could provide the basis for investigations related to the evaluation of spermatogonial stem cell physiology niche in Kinosternon scorpioides.
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Vol. 90 • No. 2