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Comparative Histochemistry of the Sexually Dimorphic Skin Glands of Anuran Amphibians

Eric O. Thomas, Linda Tsang and Paul Licht
Copeia
Vol. 1993, No. 1 (Feb. 11, 1993), pp. 133-143
DOI: 10.2307/1446304
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1446304
Page Count: 11
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Comparative Histochemistry of the Sexually Dimorphic Skin Glands of Anuran Amphibians
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Abstract

We have studied the structure and histochemistry of the sexually dimorphic skin glands (SDSG) of 14 frog species, representing six families, to determine whether these glands constitute a unique type of skin gland. The SDSG of 12 of the 14 species are multicellular alveolar glands; the secretory cells are filled with eosinophilic granules. The SDSG of these 12 species stain positive for neutral mucosubstances and sulfated proteins, suggesting the presence of neutral mucoproteins. Acidic mucosubstances and lipids were not detected. No variations were observed in the structure or histochemistry of the SDSG of these 12 species that could be attributed to either the phylogeny of individual species or the anatomical location of the glands on the body. In the other two of the 14 species examined, the SDSG are structurally and histochemically similar to serous glands. The structural and histochemical properties of the SDSG of the 12 species demonstrate that SDSG in most species are different from other anuran skin glands. Although no direct connection has previously been made between anuran SDSG, our results suggest that these glands share fundamental structural and chemical properties, and collectively represent a novel gland type. We propose that the preexisting term "breeding gland" be redefined more broadly to represent these SDSG. We also report, for the first time, the presence of glands dispersed in the dorsum Rana pipiens and of R. aurora that may be SDSG, comparable to those glands traditionally recognized in the thumb pads.

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