Zoomorphology

, Volume 114, Issue 4, pp 227–237

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

  • C. Gack
  • K. Peschke
Original Article

Summary

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.

Abbreviations

ad

adhesive secretion covering the sperm

sac

am amorphous secretion of the spermatophore

as

ascending portion of the spermatophore

ds

descending portion of the spermatophore

end

parts of the male endophallus

ext

extended tube

f

flagellum

gs

genital segment

lt

large tooth

m

muscle of the spermatheca

nsc

non sclerotized cuticle

op

opening of the spermathecal gland

pt

primary tube

sc

sclerotized cuticle

sd

spermathecal duct

se

secretion of the spermathecal gland

sf

secretion flowing out of the primary tube

sg

spermathecal gland

sm

sperm

smt

small tooth

sp

spermatheca

ss

sperm sac

st

secondary tube

vm

vaginal muscle

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. Gack
    • 1
  • K. Peschke
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut für Biologie I (Zoologie)Universität FreiburgFreiburg i.Br.Germany

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