Paternity analysis of wild-caught females shows that sperm package size and placement influence fertilization success in the bushcricket Pholidoptera griseoaptera

Parker, D. J., Zaborowska, J., Ritchie, M. G. & Vahed, K.
Molecular Ecology
Journal publication date: 

In species where females store sperm, males may try to influence paternity by the strategic placement of sperm within the female's sperm storage organ. Sperm may be mixed or layered in storage organs, and this can influence sperm use beyond a 'fair raffle'. In some insects, sperm from different matings is packaged into discrete packets (spermatodoses), which retain their integrity in the female's sperm storage organ (spermatheca), but little is known about how these may influence patterns of sperm use under natural mating conditions in wild populations. We examined the effect of the size and position of spermatodoses within the spermatheca and number of competing ejaculates on sperm use in female dark bushcrickets (Pholidoptera griseoaptera) that had mated under unmanipulated field conditions. Females were collected near the end of the mating season, and seven hypervariable microsatellite loci were used to assign paternity of eggs laid in the laboratory. Females contained a median of three spermatodoses (range 1-6), and only six of the 36 females contained more than one spermatodose of the same genotype. Both the size and relative placement of the spermatodoses within the spermatheca had a significant effect on paternity, with a bias against smaller spermatodoses and those further from the single entrance/exit of the spermatheca. A higher number of competing males reduced the chances of siring offspring for each male. Hence, both spermatodose size and relative placement in the spermatheca influence paternity success.