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Vol. 79, 2015, Pages: 36–45

Morphostructural analysis of the male reproductive system and DNA barcoding in Balclutha brevis Lindberg 1954 (Homoptera, Cicadellidae)

D.G.M. Vitale, R. Viscuso, V. D'Urso, S. Gibilras, A. Sardella, A. Marletta, A.M. Pappalardo

Dipartimento di Scienze Biologiche, Geologiche e Ambientali, Sezione di Biologia Animale “Marcello La Greca”, Università degli Studi di Catania, Via Androne 81, 95124 Catania, Italy.


Balclutha brevis Lindberg 1954 is an allochthonous leafhopper infesting an invasive grass, Pennisetum setaceum, in Sicily and in mainland Europe; therefore, this species could compete with populations of native species, thus contributing to the loss of biodiversity. Considering the ecological implications of B. brevis, investigations on all its biological aspects represent, therefore, a premise for further studies in applied sciences. Based on the lacking ultrastructural data about the reproductive systems of the Auchenorrhyncha, we carried out morphostructural investigations on the male reproductive system of B. brevis. Further, a first report of DNA barcoding analysis (amplification and sequencing of Cytochrome Oxidase I gene) has also been performed to characterize B. brevis compared to other congeneric species. From a morphological point of view, the male reproductive system of B. brevis has an organization comparable to the general anatomical features of most of the Auchenorrhyncha species; however, comparing our data with those concerning the different groups of Cicadomorpha, some considerations are discussed. As for the histological and ultrastructural investigations, our results show a secretory activity of the various examined structures, mainly in the lateral ejaculatory ducts and in the accessory glands. The latter, in particular, show morphostructural differences comparing the distal tract to the proximal one; moreover, the histochemical techniques showed the possible presence of a lipid component in the peculiar cytoplasmic granules found in the gland cells. The significance of these findings in the accessory glands is discussed. Finally, the ultrastructural features found in the seminal vesicles are different from those of the lateral ejaculatory ducts and are indicative of the different roles played by these structures in the organization of the spermatozoa bundles.

Keywords: TEM; SEM; Histology; Histochemistry; DNA barcoding; Auchenorrhyncha.

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