Sperm competition affects sex allocation but not sperm morphology in a flatworm

Janicke, T. and Schärer, L.. (2010) Sperm competition affects sex allocation but not sperm morphology in a flatworm. Behavioral ecology and sociobiology, 64 (9). pp. 1367-1375.

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Official URL: http://edoc.unibas.ch/dok/A5839786

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Sperm competition has been shown to be an important evolutionary agent affecting the behaviour, physiology, and morphology of both males and females. One morphological trait that is particularly likely to be affected by sperm competition is sperm size because it is thought to influence the competitiveness of sperm by determining sperm longevity, motility, and/or their ability to displace competing sperm. Most comparative studies across taxa have found a positive relationship between the level of sperm competition and sperm length, but very few studies have tested for a phenotypically plastic adjustment of sperm morphology in response to sperm competition. In this study, we experimentally tested for an effect of sperm competition on phenotypic plasticity in sperm morphology in an obligately outcrossing simultaneous hermaphrodite, the free-living flatworm Macrostomum lignano, by either raising worms in monogamous pairs (no sperm competition) or in promiscuous groups (intense sperm competition). Worms in groups produced larger testes and smaller ovaries as predicted by sex allocation theory and as previously documented in this species. However, we found no evidence for an effect of group size on sperm morphology, measured as total sperm length, sperm body length, and the length of two different sperm appendages. We conclude that M. lignano may either be incapable of adjusting the sperm morphology in a phenotypically plastic way and/or that there might be no benefit of phenotypic plasticity in sperm traits in this species.
Faculties and Departments:05 Faculty of Science > Departement Umweltwissenschaften > Integrative Biologie > Evolutionary Biology (Schärer)
UniBasel Contributors:Schärer, Lukas and Janicke, Tim
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
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Last Modified:20 Sep 2017 09:22
Deposited On:08 Nov 2012 16:13

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