Spermiogenesis in the progenetic spathebothriidean cestode Diplocotyle olrikii has been examined using transmission electron microscopy (TEM) for the first time. Along with the typical features of spermatozoon cytodifferentiation (e.g., the electron-dense material in the apical region of the differentiation zone in the early stage of spermiogenesis, the intercentriolar body which is composed of three electron-dense plates and two electron-lucent zones, the orthogonal development of the two flagella, a flagellar rotation, proximo-distal fusion, the presence of two pairs of electron-dense attachment zones), new for the Eucestoda is detection of the formation of two types of free flagella during spermiogenesis in progenetic D. olrikii, exhibiting either standard 9 + '1' trepaxonematan pattern, or atypical 9 + 0 structure. Various combinations of these two types of flagella resulted in the production of three types of male gametes during spermiogenesis in this spathebothriidean cestode. The first type is represented with the two axonemes of the 9 + '1' structure; the second type exhibits two different axonemes, i.e., one with 9 + '1' and the other of 9 + 0 pattern; and the third type has two axonemes with atypical 9 + 0 structure. The occurrence of three sperm types in progenetic D. olrikii is associated with typical spermiogenesis and has never been described previously in the Platyhelminthes. We suppose that heteromorphism of male gametes in D. olrikii might be linked to progenesis, i.e., the programmed sexual maturation detected during the larval/developmental stage of an organism.
Keywords: Diplocotyle olrikii; Progenesis; Spathebothriidea; Spermiogenesis; Ultrastructure.