, Volume 114, Issue 4, pp 227–237 | Cite as

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


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.


Cage Developmental Biology Sperm Transfer Valve Structure Spermathecal Duct 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



adhesive secretion covering the sperm


am amorphous secretion of the spermatophore


ascending portion of the spermatophore


descending portion of the spermatophore


parts of the male endophallus


extended tube




genital segment


large tooth


muscle of the spermatheca


non sclerotized cuticle


opening of the spermathecal gland


primary tube


sclerotized cuticle


spermathecal duct


secretion of the spermathecal gland


secretion flowing out of the primary tube


spermathecal gland




small tooth




sperm sac


secondary tube


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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