Mate choice and sexual conflict in Brachionus plicatilis (Rotifera)
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Male mate choice in Brachionus plicatilis is based on information from coronal receptors and contact chemoreception of a glycoprotein signal on the body surface of females. Male mating behavior is modulated by mating signal quality and strength, which determines male mating persistence and circling intensity. We probe the sensory abilities of males by better resolving their discrimination of female age. Males preferentially initiate mating with young females, but not too young. Males circle 0.2 h old females just hatched from resting eggs only about 1/2 as frequently as 12 h old females. Males are even more discriminating of females with whom they copulate, preferring 3 h old females significantly more than 0.2 h or 6 h old females. In contrast, males cannot distinguish between virgin females and those who have already copulated. Similarly, males circled and copulated with females hatching from resting eggs with equal frequency as those hatching from amictic eggs. The counterpoint to male mate choice is female resistance to mating. When males contact females, the females respond with one of four behaviors: no response, acceleration, foot flipping, or coronal retraction. In 65% of male–female encounters, there was no initial response by females. However, when males began circling females, females accelerated 11.1 times more often than when males were absent. The second type of evasive female behavior was foot-flipping, which tends to knock off males attempting to circle the female. In the presence of circling males, females performed foot-flipping behavior three times more often than in the absence of males. Coronal retraction, where they stop swimming and withdraw their corona, was observed less frequently than acceleration or foot-flipping, and there was no difference in the presence or absence of males. These data are interpreted in the context of sexual conflict, where the behaviors that optimize male and female fitness differ.
KeywordsMate choice Sexual conflict Males Mating Age Sex Swimming Foot
This work was supported by the National Science Foundation grants BE/GenEn MCB-0412674 to TWS.
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