Unusual macromorphology of the ductuli efferentes and epididymis of the koala (Phascolarctos cinereus)
Rachel J. Gibson^A, Chris M. Leigh and William G. Breed^B
Department of Anatomical Sciences, University of Adelaide, SA 5005, Australia.
A) Current Address: Department of Medical Oncology, Royal Adelaide Hospital, SA 5000, Australia.
The macromorphology of the ductuli efferentes and epididymis of the koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) was investigated and found to differ from that of other marsupial species that have been described as it comprised four macroscopically distinct lobes. Light and electron microscopy of epithelium of the duct within these lobes showed that there were principal and ciliated cells lining the duct of the first lobe, indicating it to be composed of ductuli efferentes. In the other three lobes, the epithelium contained principal, basal, electron-lucent, and mitochondria-rich cells, showing that these three lobes included the epithelium of the epididymis. The height of this epithelium gradually increased along the duct (contrary to the situation in most other species that have been studied, in which a decrease occurs). Preliminary 1D-SDS PAGE observations of flushes from the caput and cauda epididymides suggested that epididymal proteins were secreted along much of the length of the duct; the greater height of the cauda epithelium may relate to the greater protein synthetic and secretory activity in this region.