All a question of timing: When bushcrickets mate, the male attaches a sticky package, the so-called spermatophore, to the female’s abdomen. Alongside the sperm themselves, this ‘bridal present’ consists of a protein-rich mass that the female eats after mating.
It then takes several hours for the sperm to find their way into the female’s reproductive tract. But, who decides when that will happen? A study by the Bielefeld biologists Professor Dr. Klaus Reinhold and Dr. Steven Ramm suggests that it is the male who determines the dynamics of this process even when he has long ‘hopped off’ somewhere else. They published their results at the beginning of December in the online first version of the journal Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology.
In contrast to direct sperm transfer, the use of a spermatophore could grant the female more influence over the fertilization or non-fertilization of her eggs. However, the results of the Bielefeld study cast doubt on this assumption. They suggest a high degree of male control over this decisive stage in reproduction. For their study, Professor Dr. Klaus Reinhold and Dr. Steven Ramm from Bielefeld University paired males and females from two subspecies of the bushcricket Poecilimon veluchianus in whom the time between pairing and sperm transfer differ. Whereas in the subspecies Poecilimon veluchianus minor, sperm are transferred within the first three hours, the transfer in Poecilimon veluchianus veluchianus starts only after four hours. If the two subspecies are interbred – the researchers thought – then the number of transferred sperm after three hours would indicate whether it is the male or the female who determines how long this transfer takes.
The researchers mated nine to twelve pairs in each of the four possible combinations of Poecilimon veluchianus minor and Poecilimon veluchianus veluchianus. Three hours after mating, they examined how many sperm they could find in the female’s reproductive tract. The result: the sperm from the males of the ‘faster’ subspecies Poecilimon veluchianus minor could be found in the females of both subspecies. In contrast, the males in the ‘slower’ sub-species Poecilimon veluchianus veluchianus had transferred almost no sperm at all to either type of female.
The researchers conclude from this experiment that the males control the speed of transfer over the sperm package. However, this does not automatically lead to the conclusion that the female is powerless. Females can also influence whether sperms are transferred by how quickly they eat the spermatophore. In addition, the larger the male, the larger the size of the sperm package, and this influences how long the females need to consume the protein. As a result, the sperm have more time to transfer to the female – and the female’s eggs have a greater chance of being fertilized by a ‘high-quality’ male. Professor Reinhold stresses, ‘Our findings show that the females do not determine the transfer – not that they could not do so.’
For further information in the Internet, go to:
Prof. Dr. Klaus Reinhold, Bielefeld University
Faculty of Biology/Evolutionary Biology
Telephone: +49 521 106-2721
Ingo Lohuis | Source: Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Further information: www.uni-bielefeld.de
More articles from Life Sciences:
New genetic research finds shark, human proteins stunningly similar
06.12.2013 | Cornell University
Prostate cancer biomarker may predict patient outcomes
06.12.2013 | Vanderbilt University Medical Center
International team of scientists develops new feedback method for optimizing the laser pulse shapes used in the control of chemical reactions
In many ways, traditional chemical synthesis is similar to cooking. To alter the final product, you can change the ingredients or their ratio, change the method of mixing ingredients, or change the temperature or pressure of the environment of the ingredients.
Like an accomplished chef, chemists have become very skilled ...
A genetic defect protects mice from infection with influenza viruses
A new study published in the scientific journal PLOS Pathogens points out that mice lacking a protein called Tmprss2 are no longer affected by certain flu viruses.
The discovery was made by researchers from the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) in Braunschweig in collaboration with colleagues from Göttingen and ...
The Light: Global study gets underway with online user survey
Light has a fundamental impact on our sense of well-being and performance. In cooperation with Zumtobel, a supplier of lighting solutions, Fraunhofer IAO has launched a global user survey of lighting quality in offices. The objective is to identify the best lighting conditions for a variety of spaces and lighting ...
Quantum entanglement, a perplexing phenomenon of quantum mechanics that Albert Einstein once referred to as “spooky action at a distance,” could be even spookier than Einstein perceived.
Physicists at the University of Washington and Stony Brook University in New York believe the phenomenon might be intrinsically linked with wormholes, hypothetical features of space-time that in popular science fiction can provide a much-faster-than-light shortcut from one part of the universe to another.
But here’s the catch: One couldn’t actually ...
A star is formed when a large cloud of gas and dust condenses and eventually becomes so dense that it collapses into a ball of gas, where the pressure heats the matter, creating a glowing gas ball – a star is born.
New research from the Niels Bohr Institute, among others, shows that a young, newly formed star in the Milky Way had such an explosive growth, that it was initially about 100 times brighter than it is now. The results are published in the scientific journal, Astrophysical Journal Letters.
The young ...
06.12.2013 | Materials Sciences
06.12.2013 | Life Sciences
06.12.2013 | Life Sciences
05.12.2013 | Event News
04.12.2013 | Event News
12.11.2013 | Event News