Original Article


, Volume 114, Issue 4, pp 227-237

First online:

Spernathecal morphology, sperm transfer and a novel mechanism of sperm displacement in the rove beetle, Aleochara curtula (Coleoptera, Staphylinidae)

  • C. GackAffiliated withInstitut für Biologie I (Zoologie), Universität Freiburg
  • , K. PeschkeAffiliated withInstitut für Biologie I (Zoologie), Universität Freiburg

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The mechanism by which sperm are transferred from the male's spermatophore to the female's storing cage is described for the rove beetle Aleochara curtula, emphasizing a novel mechanism of sperm displacement by competing males. The cuticular, U-shaped spermatheca is equipped with a valve structure and two sclerotized teeth. The tube of the spermatophore extends into the spermathecal duct through the guidance of the flagellum of the male endophallus. Further elongation of the spermatophore tube, however, occurs only after separation of the pair. A primary tube bursts at its tip after passing through the valve. Within the lumen of the primary tube, a second tube passes through the valve and continues to extend up to the apical bulb of the spermatheca, doubles back on itself and swells to form a balloon filling most of the spermatheca. The balloon of the spermatophore is pierced within the spermatheca by tooth-like structures pressed against the spermatophore through contraction of the spermathecal muscle. The same process of spermatophore growing and swelling is also observed in mated females. Sperm from previous copulations are backflushed through the valve and the spermathecal duct, indicative of last-male sperm predominance.