Meeting Abstract

83.5  Friday, Jan. 6  The Functional Complexity of the Male American Alligator Phallus MOORE, BC*; MATHAVAN, K; GUILLETTE, LJ; Louisiana Tech University; University of Massachusetts; Medical University of South Carolina bmoore@latech.edu

For over a century there have been scientific descriptions of crocodilian phallus morphologies, however little work has presented detailed cellular-level analyses of these structures. Here we present a histological investigation of the complex functional anatomy of the juvenile male American alligator phallus, including fibrous and vascular erectile structures, a variety of secretory epithelium morphologies, and observed immune cells. Using 3-D reconstruction software, we show the shape and location of vascular erectile tissues within the phallus. Histochemical staining highlights mucin-rich secretory cells in glandular epithelial cells of the phallic shaft and also of the semen-conducting ventral sulcus. Lymphoid aggregates, lymphocytes, and epithelial mucin coats suggest an active immune system in the phallus defending from both the external and intra-cloacal environments. These observations better characterize the complexity of the alligator phallus and predict later adult reproductive functions.