Sperm competition-induced plasticity in the speed of spermatogenesis

Giannakara, Athina and Schärer, Lukas and Ramm, Steven A.. (2016) Sperm competition-induced plasticity in the speed of spermatogenesis. BMC Evolutionary Biology , 16. p. 60.

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Official URL: http://edoc.unibas.ch/53153/

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Background: Sperm competition between rival ejaculates over the fertilization of ova typically selects for the production of large numbers of sperm. An obvious way to increase sperm production is to increase testis size, and most empirical work has focussed on this parameter. Adaptive plasticity in sperm production rate could also arise due to variation in the speed with which each spermatozoon is produced, but whether animals can respond to relevant environmental conditions by modulating the kinetics of spermatogenesis in this way has not been experimentally investigated. Results: Here we demonstrate that the simultaneously hermaphroditic flatworm Macrostomum lignano exhibits substantial plasticity in the speed of spermatogenesis, depending on the social context: worms raised under higher levels of sperm competition produce sperm faster. Conclusions: Our findings overturn the prevailing view that the speed of spermatogenesis is a static property of a genotype, and demonstrate the profound impact that social environmental conditions can exert upon a key developmental process. We thus identify, to our knowledge, a novel mechanism through which sperm production rate is maximised under sperm competition.
Faculties and Departments:05 Faculty of Science > Departement Umweltwissenschaften > Integrative Biologie > Evolutionary Biology (Schärer)
UniBasel Contributors:Schärer, Lukas
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Publisher:BioMed Central
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
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Last Modified:30 Oct 2017 07:24
Deposited On:30 Oct 2017 07:24

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