Bigger testes increase paternity in a simultaneous hermaphrodite, independently of the sperm competition level

Vellnow, Nikolas and Marie-Orleach, Lucas and Zadesenets, Kira S. and Schärer, Lukas. (2018) Bigger testes increase paternity in a simultaneous hermaphrodite, independently of the sperm competition level. Journal of evolutionary biology, 31 (2). pp. 180-196.

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Official URL: https://edoc.unibas.ch/75724/

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Hermaphroditic animals face the fundamental evolutionary optimization problem of allocating their resources to their male vs. female reproductive function (e.g. testes and sperm vs. ovaries and eggs), and this optimal sex allocation can be affected by both pre- and post-copulatory sexual selection. For example, local sperm competition (LSC) - the competition between related sperm for the fertilization of a partner's ova - occurs in small mating groups and can favour a female-biased sex allocation, because, under LSC, investment into sperm production is predicted to show diminishing fitness returns. Here, we test whether higher testis investment increases an individual's paternity success under sperm competition, and whether the strength of this effect diminishes when LSC is stronger, as predicted by sex allocation theory. We created two subsets of individuals of the simultaneously hermaphroditic flatworm Macrostomum lignano - by sampling worms from either the highest or lowest quartile of the testis investment distribution - and estimated their paternity success in group sizes of either three (strong LSC) or eight individuals (weak LSC). Specifically, using transgenic focal individuals expressing a dominant green-fluorescent protein marker, we showed that worms with high testis investment sired 22% more offspring relative to those with low investment, corroborating previous findings in M. lignano and other species. However, the strength of this effect was not significantly modulated by the experienced group size, contrasting theoretical expectations of more strongly diminishing fitness returns under strong LSC. We discuss the possible implications for the evolutionary maintenance of hermaphroditism in M. lignano.
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
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
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Last Modified:07 Sep 2020 07:22
Deposited On:03 Jul 2020 14:18

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