The spermatheca (pronounced // plural: spermathecae //), also called receptaculum seminis (plural: receptacula seminis), is an organ of the female reproductive tract in insects, some molluscs, oligochaeta worms and certain other invertebrates and vertebrates. Its purpose is to receive and store sperm from the male or, in the case of hermaphrodites, the male component of the body, and can sometimes be the site of fertilization when the oocytes are sufficiently developed.
Some species of animal have multiple spermathecae. For example, certain species of earthworms have four pair of spermathecae—one pair each in the 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th segments. The spermathecae receive and store the spermatozoa of another earthworm during copulation. They are lined with epithelium and are variable in shape: some are thin, heavily coiled tubes, while others are vague outpocketings from the main reproductive tract. It is one of the many variations in sexual reproduction.
- David M. Sever, Cynthia K. Tait, Lowell V. Diller, and Laura Burkholder. 2004. Ultrastructure of the Annual Cycle of Female Sperm Storage in Spermathecae of the Torrent Salamander Rhyacotriton variegatus (Amphibia: Rhyacotritonidae). JOURNAL OF MORPHOLOGY 261:1–17
- Jan A. Pechenick. Biology of the Invertebrates. New York: McGraw Hill, 2005
- Jan A. Pechenik. Biology of the Invertebrates. New York: McGraw Hill, 2010, pg. 322
- "Diagnosis of failing queens by inspecting the spermatheca". Retrieved May 17, 2012.
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