The ovary structure of the myxophagan beetle, Hycdoscapha natans, was investigated by means of light and electron microscopy for the first time. Each of the two ovaries consists of three ovarioles, the functional units of insect oogenesis. The ovary type is telotrophic meroistic but differs strongly from the telotrophic ovary found among all polyphagous beetles investigated so far. All characters found here are typical of telotrophic ovaries of Sialidae and Raphidioptera. Both taxa belong to the Neuropterida. As in all telotrophic ovaries, all nurse cells are combined in an anterior chamber, the tropharium. The tropharium houses two subsets of germ cells: numerous nurse cell nuclei are combined in a central syncytium without any cell membranes in between, surrounded by a monolayer of single-germ cells, the tapetum cells. Each tapetum cell is connected to the central syncytium via an intercellular bridge. Tapetum cells of the posterior zone, which sufficiently contact prefollicular cells, are able to grow into the vitellarium and develop as oocytes. During previtellogenic and early vitellogenic growth, oocytes remain connected with the central syncytium of the tropharium via their anterior elongations, the nutritive cords. The morphological data are discussed in the light of those derived from ovaries of other Coleoptera and from the proposed sister group, the Neuropterida. The data strongly support a sister group relationship between Coleoptera and Neuropterida. Furthermore, several switches between polytrophic and telotrophic ovaries must have occurred during the radiation of ancient insect taxa.
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