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Greater sperm complexity in the Australasian old endemic rodents (Tribe: Hydromyini) associates with increased levels of intermale sperm competition


McLennon, Hanna J; Lüpold, Stefan; Smissen, Peter; Rowe, Kevin C; Breed, William G (2017). Greater sperm complexity in the Australasian old endemic rodents (Tribe: Hydromyini) associates with increased levels of intermale sperm competition. Reproduction, Fertility, and Development, 29(5):921-930.

Abstract

Spermatozoa exhibit considerable interspecies morphological variation across mammals, especially among murid rodents. In Australasia, most murids in the tribe Hydromyini have a spermatozoon with a highly complex head exhibiting an apical hook, characteristic of most murids, and two projections that extend from its upper concave surface, the ventral processes. In the present study we performed a phylogenetically controlled comparison of sperm morphology across 45 species of hydromyine rodents to test the hypothesis that the length and angle of both the apical hook and ventral processes, as well as the length of the sperm tail, increase with relative testes mass as a proxy for differences in levels of inter-male sperm competition. Although both sperm head protrusions exhibited considerable variation in their length and angle across species, only the angles increased significantly in relation to relative testes mass. Further, the length of the sperm flagellum was positively associated with relative testes mass. These results suggest that, in hydromyine rodents, the angle of the apical hook and ventral processes of the sperm head, as well as the sperm tail length, are likely to be sexually selected traits. The possible functional significance of these findings is briefly discussed.

Abstract

Spermatozoa exhibit considerable interspecies morphological variation across mammals, especially among murid rodents. In Australasia, most murids in the tribe Hydromyini have a spermatozoon with a highly complex head exhibiting an apical hook, characteristic of most murids, and two projections that extend from its upper concave surface, the ventral processes. In the present study we performed a phylogenetically controlled comparison of sperm morphology across 45 species of hydromyine rodents to test the hypothesis that the length and angle of both the apical hook and ventral processes, as well as the length of the sperm tail, increase with relative testes mass as a proxy for differences in levels of inter-male sperm competition. Although both sperm head protrusions exhibited considerable variation in their length and angle across species, only the angles increased significantly in relation to relative testes mass. Further, the length of the sperm flagellum was positively associated with relative testes mass. These results suggest that, in hydromyine rodents, the angle of the apical hook and ventral processes of the sperm head, as well as the sperm tail length, are likely to be sexually selected traits. The possible functional significance of these findings is briefly discussed.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Language:English
Date:2017
Deposited On:06 May 2016 17:53
Last Modified:14 May 2017 05:08
Publisher:CSIRO PUBLISHING
ISSN:1031-3613
Funders:AustralianResearch Council
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1071/RD15425
PubMed ID:26922469

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