In a follow-up to the Moore et al. (2002) study, Fisher & Hoekstra (2010) showed that even when two male Peromyscus mice inseminated a female in rapid succession, sperm formed trains predominantly with sperm from the same ejaculate, which is consistent with the theoretical prediction that sperm should cooperate only with closely related sperm. Sperm were even able to discriminate
between sperm from their own male and sperm of a brother. LY2157299 purchase Comparison with a monogamous mouse species in which sperm competition is absent showed that such discrimination is absent. This remarkable study provides additional evidence that sperm cooperation is an adaptation to sperm competition. The mechanisms of sperm competition in insects are, as one might expect from their diversity of behaviours and morphologies, remarkably varied (Simmons, 2001). One of the simplest mechanisms, which occurs in dragonflies and damselflies, is sperm removal. In a pioneering study, Waage (1979) showed how male damselflies Calopteryx maculata use the hooks on their phallus, to remove previously stored sperm from the female bursa and spermatheca before inseminating their own. In the giant water bug Abedus herberti, males copulate
repeatedly with females as they are egg laying, and by doing so, fertilize the majority of eggs, even though the female has been inseminated previously by other males. The precise mechanism is not known, but it seems likely that by repeated insemination, the male find more Baricitinib ensures either that his sperm are closest to the point at which fertilization
occurs, just as the egg is being laid, or are numerically dominant (Smith, 1979). A particularly sophisticated form of sperm displacement occurs in the rove beetle Aleochara curtula. The male transfers sperm to the female in a spermatophore that, once the couple has separated, takes on a life of its own. A tube emerges from the spermatophore and enters the female’s spermatheca, where its tip then inflates like a balloon completely filling the female’s sperm store. The swelling spermatophore forces any previously stored sperm out of the store, before its own sperm are released, by two knife-like structures inside the female tract that puncture the ‘balloon’ (Gack & Peschke, 1994). The mechanisms of last male sperm precedence in the yellow dungfly took rather longer to elucidate. Using detailed dissections and radio-tracers to follow the fate of sperm inside the female reproductive tract, Simmons and colleagues eventually revealed that when a male dungfly inseminates a virgin female, he deposits his sperm into the female’s bursa, a bag-like structure connected to the spermatheca (the main sperm storage structure), by a narrow duct. Soon after insemination, a piston-like device sucks up the sperm, transferring it to the spermatheca.