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Title

Is the hook of muroid rodent's sperm related to sperm train formation?

AuthorsTourmente, Maximiliano ; Zarka-Trigo, D.; Roldán, Eduardo R. S.
KeywordsRodents
Sperm cooperation
Sperm head
Sperm hook
Sperm trains
Sperm competition
Function
Structure
Issue DateJun-2016
PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons
CitationJournal of Evolutionary Biology 29(6): 1168-1177 (2016)
AbstractCompetition between spermatozoa of rival males to gain fertilizations has led to a wide array of modifications in sperm structure and function. Sperm cells of most muroid rodents have hook-shaped extensions in the apical–ventral tip of the head, but the function of this structure is largely unknown. These ‘hooks’ may facilitate aggregation of spermatozoa in so-called ‘trains’, as an adaptation to sperm competition, because sperm in trains may swim faster than free-swimming cells. However, there is controversy regarding the role of the hook in train formation, and in relation to whether it is selected by sperm competition. We examined spermatozoa from muroid rodents with varying levels of sperm competition to assess whether (i) sperm aggregates are common in these taxa, (ii) presence of a hook relates to the formation of sperm aggregations, and (iii) formation of sperm aggregations is explained by sperm competition. Our analyses in 25 muroid species revealed that > 92% of spermatozoa swim individually in all species, with the exception of the wood mouse, Apodemus sylvaticus, which has ~50% spermatozoa swimming freely. Species with hooked spermatozoa had higher sperm competition levels and longer sperm than species whose sperm lack a hook. Neither the presence of hook nor sperm competition levels were related to the percentage of sperm in aggregations. Thus, (i) sperm aggregates in muroid rodents are an exceptional trait found only in a few species, (ii) evolution of the sperm hook is associated to sperm competition levels, but (iii) the hook is unlikely to be related to the formation of sperm aggregates. The evolutionary significance of the sperm head hook thus remains elusive, and future studies should examine potential roles of this pervasive structure in sperm's hydrodynamic efficiency and sperm–female tract interactions.
URIhttp://hdl.handle.net/10261/159984
Identifiersdoi: 10.1111/jeb.12857
issn: 1420-9101
Appears in Collections:(MNCN) Artículos
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