Structure and function of the spermathecal complex in the phlebotomine sandflyPhlebotomus papatasi Scopoli (Diptera: Psychodidae): II. Post-copulatory histophysiological changes during the gonotrophic cycle
The spermathecal complex ofPhlebotomus papatasi Scopoli (Diptera: Psychodidae) undergoes histological and physiological changes during its gonotropic cycle. The present histochemical study revealed a mucopolysaccharide secretory mass in the spermathecae of the newly emerged sandfly. Sperm competition occurs when two or more males compete to fertilize an ovum in the female reproductive tract. In this study, spermatophores of two or more competing males were deposited at the base of the spermathecal ducts, which originate from the female bursa copulatrix. This suggests that females play a role in sperm displacement, which is defined as any situation in which the last male to mate with a female fertilizes maximum number her eggs. A blood meal ingested by the female for ovary development and egg laying stimulates the release of sperm from the spermatophore. The spermatozoa then migrate to the lumen of the spermatheca. The ultrastructure of spermatozoa comprises a head with double-layered acrosomal perforatorium, an elongate nucleus, and the axoneme with a 9 + 9 + 0 flagellar pattern. This axomene differs from the aflagellate axoneme of other Psychodinae. Morphological changes, such as the casting off of the acrosomal membrane, and histological changes in the spermatophore are also described. Mating plugs that have been described previously in sandflies appear to be artefacts. Females ofP. papatasi may be inseminated more than once during each gonotrophic cycle, and additional inseminations may be necessary for each cycle. The relationships between the volumes of the sperm and the spermatheca were calculated to determine sperm utilization and fecundity ofP. papatasi. As the females ofP. papatasi mate polyandrously, the anatomical and physiological complexity of the spermathecal complex may be related to post-copulatory sexual selection.
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Volume 48, 2023
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