A double role of sperm in scorpions: the mating plug of Euscorpius italicus (Scorpiones: Euscorpiidae) consists of sperm

Althaus, Sarah; Jacob, Alain; Graber, Werner; Hofer, Deborah; Nentwig, Wolfgang; Kropf, Christian (2010). A double role of sperm in scorpions: the mating plug of Euscorpius italicus (Scorpiones: Euscorpiidae) consists of sperm. Journal of morphology, 271(4), pp. 383-93. Philadelphia, Pa.: Wistar Institute of Anatomy and Biology 10.1002/jmor.10804

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Mating plugs occluding the female gonopore after mating are a widespread phenomenon. In scorpions, two main types of mating plugs are found: sclerotized mating plugs being parts of the spermatophore that break off during mating, and gel-like mating plugs being gelatinous fluids that harden in the female genital tract. In this study, the gel-like mating plug of Euscorpius italicus was investigated with respect to its composition, fine structure, and changes over time. Sperm forms the major component of the mating plug, a phenomenon previously unknown in arachnids. Three parts of the mating plug can be distinguished. The part facing the outside of the female (outer part) contains sperm packages containing inactive spermatozoa. In this state, sperm is transferred. In the median part, the sperm packages get uncoiled to single spermatozoa. In the inner part, free sperm is embedded in a large amount of secretions. Fresh mating plugs are soft gelatinous, later they harden from outside toward inside. This process is completed after 3-5 days. Sperm from artificially triggered spermatophores could be activated by immersion in insect Ringer's solution indicating that the fluid condition in the females' genital tract or females' secretions causes sperm activation. Because of the male origin of the mating plug, it has likely evolved under sperm competition or sexual conflict. As females refused to remate irrespective of the presence or absence of a mating plug, females may have changed their mating behavior in the course of evolution from polyandry to monandry.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > Institute of Anatomy
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE) > Community Ecology

UniBE Contributor:

Graber, Werner Adrian and Nentwig, Wolfgang




Wistar Institute of Anatomy and Biology




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Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 14:11

Last Modified:

04 May 2014 23:05

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https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/2023 (FactScience: 204171)

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