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J Insect Physiol. 2011 Feb;57(2):307-15. doi: 10.1016/j.jinsphys.2010.11.020. Epub 2010 Dec 2.

Monogamy and polygamy in two species of mirid bugs: a functional-based approach.

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IRTA Entomology, Carretera de Cabrils Km 2, Cabrils, Barcelona, Spain.


Multiple mating in females is widespread among insects in spite of the risk of predation, disease acquisition and/or physical injury that may occur. One common consequence of female polyandry is competition among sperm from two or more males within the female to fertilize the ova. This competition is an evolutionary driving force that determines a series of adaptations in both males and females. In this work, we examine some behavioral, morphological and physiological characteristics of males and females of two Heteropteran species that are related to their monoandrous/polyandrous mating behavior. Females of Macrolophus pygmaeus (Het. Miridae), the monoandrous species, were coy about accepting a male partner, spent a short time in copula, and received only a small volume of ejaculate. Even so, with only one mating event, they received enough sperm to fertilize most of their ova (21 days after mating all females were still fertile). In contrast, females of Nesidiocoris tenuis (Het. Miridae), the polyandrous species, readily accepted any mating partner, spent a long time in copula and received a large volume of ejaculate. However, these latter females soon ran out of sperm and needed to mate periodically in order to maintain a sufficient sperm supply to fertilize their eggs. As predicted, based on current theory (Simmons, 2001b), an increased investment in spermatogenesis was detected in N. tenuis with relation to M. pygmaeus. The males of the polyandrous species had larger accessory reproductive glands, seminal vesicles, testes and sperm cells than those of the monoandrous species.

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