, Volume 35, Issue 2, pp 123-129

Sperm transfer and storage in relation to sperm competition in Callosobruchus maculatus

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Abstract

This paper examines the underlying mechanisms of sperm competition in the beetle Callosobruchus maculatus (F.) (Coleoptera: Bruchidae). Recently developed mathematical models of sperm competition are combined with an empirical investigation of the processes of sperm transfer and storage. During a single insemination virgin males transfer approximately 46000 sperm, 85% more sperm than females can effectively store in their spermathecae. Many of these sperm remain in the bursa copulatrix where they are apparently rapidly degraded and can therefore play no role in fertilization. The spermatheca (primary site of sperm storage) is filled by a single insemination and sperm are lost from this organ at a constant rate. This rate of sperm loss from the spermatheca is insufficient for sperm mixing (without displacement) or sperm stratification to account for the degree of last male sperm precedence measured as P 2; the proportion of offspring fathered by the second male to mate reported for this species (P 2 = 0.83, when two inseminations are separated by 24 h). Models of sperm displacement correctly predict high levels of sperm precedence although the precision of these predictions is limited because the proportion of sperm entering the spermatheca cannot be accurately determined. The results suggested that last male sperm precedence in C. maculatus the result of sperm displacement, although the exact mechanism of displacement (sperm-for-sperm or fluid displacement) remains unknown. Possible constraints imposed by female genital anatomy on sperm displacement are discussed.