Oxygen Tension and Sperm Migration in the Female Bed Bug
Common bed bugs (Cimex spp) have an uncommon way of insemination, haemocoelic insemination. Sperm deposited in a pouch, the spermalege (Fig. 1), in the abodomen of the female, migrate to sperm storing organs through the haemocoel which is filled with haemolymph. Highly motile sperm in the haemocoel exhibit directed migration towards their storage sites, the conceptaculae (Abraham, 1934). The sperm, being outside the reproductive organs and surrounded by visceral organs in the haemocoel, must orientate themselves towards the conceptaculae by some mechanism. Abraham (1934) proposed sperm chemotaxis although he did not get evidence that any part of the female reproductive tissue attracted sperm. By comparing the sperm migration in related groups of bugs, it was suggested that an oxygen gradient could be responsible for directed migration of sperm in bed bugs (Carayon, 1966). The aggregated sperm attach themselves to the wall of the lateral oviducts during their migration and drag themselves toward the conceptacula (Davis, 1966). During in vitro experiments, the aggregated sperm masses when introduced into a gradient of oxygen in buffer, move towards the higher concentration of oxygen (Rao and Davis, 1969). Thus the measurement of oxygen tension in the haemolymph has become necessary to establish whether there is an oxygen concentration gradient along the path of migrating sperm in the female bug.
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