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Gametogenesis occurs in the proximal part of the gonad arm (Germ FIG 1). Germ cells have incomplete borders and are connected to one another via a central canal called the rachis (Germ FIG 1 and Germ FIG 2) (Hirsh et al., 1976). Soma-germ cell interactions in multiple events of hermaphrodite germline development require the somatic sheath and spermathecal lineages. Part of the distal gonad is not covered by the somatic tissues (the “bare region”) and is instead ensheathed only by the gonadal basal lamina (GBL) that covers the rest of the gonad (Somatic FIG 2C) (see Reproductive System - Somatic Gonad; Hall et al., 1999). The adult germ line exhibits distal–proximal polarity, with a mitotic cell population located at the distalmost end of the gonad and meiotic cells, extending proximally.
Oocytes are produced throughout adult life; sperm (spermatozoa) are generated during L4 and then used in adulthood to fertilize oocytes. These findings also apply to animals (via the unified theory) and provide the first evidence in support of the theory that the establishment of separate sexes stemmed from a genetic mutation in hermaphroditic genes that led to male and female sex chromosomes.With the ability to breed but spared the inbred defects of hermaphrodites, the separate sexes flourished.“This is an important test of the theory of the early stages of sex chromosome evolution and part of the process of understanding the way we are today,” Ashman said.The end point of the rachis may differ as the animal ages. For example, in young adults, the rachis terminates within the proximal gonad, just past the loop; in older adults, the rachis terminates in the distal gonad, although still near the loop (Mc Carter et al., 1997).