Dimorphic ejaculates and sperm release strategies associated with alternative mating behaviors in the squid.

Research paper by Lígia H LH Apostólico, José E A R JEAR Marian

Indexed on: 20 Jul '17Published on: 20 Jul '17Published in: Journal of Morphology


Sperm competition is a powerful postcopulatory selective force influencing male adaptations associated with increasing fertilization success, and it is usually related to the evolution of different strategies of ejaculate expenditure between individuals. Ejaculates may also be influenced by additional selective pressures associated with sperm competition, such as timing between insemination and fertilization, female reproductive tract morphology, and fertilization environment. Also, males that adopt alternative mating tactics may face distinct sperm competition pressures, which may lead to the evolution of intraspecific diversity in ejaculates. In loliginid squids, males with alternative reproductive tactics (sneakers and consorts) differ not only in mating behavior, but also transfer spermatophores into two distinct sites within the female. Here, we compared structure and functioning of spermatophores between sneakers and consorts in the squid Doryteuthis plei applying microscopy techniques and in vitro experiments. Sneakers and consorts exhibit differences in spermatophore structure that lead to distinct spermatophoric reactions and spermatangium morphologies. Moreover, in sneakers, sperm release lasts longer and their sperm show an aggregative behavior not detected in consorts. Slow sperm release may be a strategy to guarantee longer sperm provision, given the wide interval between sneaker mating and egg release. For consorts, in turn, intense and quick sperm discharge may be advantageous, as timing between mating and egg-laying is relatively short. Within the complex squid mating system, factors such as (i) different fertilization sites and (ii) interval between mating and egg release may also influence sperm competition, and ultimately shape the evolution of divergent ejaculates between dimorphic males.