Jul 3, 2015

Hypodermic self-insemination as a reproductive assurance strategy

Proceedings. Biological Sciences
S A RammLukas Schärer

Abstract

Self-fertilization occurs in a broad range of hermaphroditic plants and animals, and is often thought to evolve as a reproductive assurance strategy under ecological conditions that disfavour or prevent outcrossing. Nevertheless,selfing ability is far from ubiquitous among hermaphrodites, and may be constrained in taxa where the male and female gametes of the same individual cannot easily meet. Here, we report an extraordinary selfing mechanism in one such species, the free-living flatworm Macrostomum hystrix. To test the hypothesis that adaptations to hypodermic insemination of the mating partner under outcrossing also facilitate selfing, we experimentally manipulated the social environment of these transparent flatworms and then observed the spatial distribution of received sperm in vivo. We find that this distribution differs radically between conditions allowing or preventing outcrossing, implying that isolated individuals use their needle-like stylet (male copulatory organ) to inject own sperm into their anterior body region, including into their own head, from where they then apparently migrate to the site of (self-)fertilization. Conferring the ability to self could thus be an additional consequence of hypodermic insemin...Continue Reading

  • References27
  • Citations6

Citations

Mentioned in this Paper

Fertility
Body Regions
In Vivo
Body Part
Ovum
Entire Body Region
Acclimatization
Macrostomum hystrix
Spatial Distribution
Sperm Cell

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