Sperm formation was studied in the fern, Marsilea, and the cycad, Zamia, with particular emphasis on the centrioles. In Marsilea, the mature sperm possesses over 100 flagella, the basal bodies of which have the typical cylindrical structure of centrioles. Earlier observations by light microscopy suggested that these centrioles arise by fragmentation of a body known as the blepharoplast. In the youngest spermatids the blepharoplast is a hollow sphere approximately 0.8 µ in diameter. Its wall consists of closely packed immature centrioles, or procentrioles. The procentrioles are short cylinders which progressively lengthen during differentiation of the spermatid. At the same time they migrate to the surface of the cell, where each of them puts out a flagellum. A blepharoplast is found at each pole of the spindle during the last antheridial mitosis, and two blepharoplasts are found in the cytoplasm before this mitosis. Blepharoplasts are also found in the preceding cell generation, but their ultimate origin is obscure. Before the last mitosis the blepharoplasts are solid, consisting of a cluster of radially arranged tubules which bear some structural similarity to centrioles. In Zamia, similar stages are found during sperm formation, although here the number of flagella on each sperm is close to 20,000 and the blepharoplast measures about 10 µ in diameter. These observations are discussed in relation to theories of centriole replication.

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