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J Hered. 2013 Nov-Dec;104(6):791-7. doi: 10.1093/jhered/est049. Epub 2013 Aug 24.

Genetic evidence for polygynandry in the black-striped pipefish Syngnathus abaster: a microsatellite-based parentage analysis.

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the Centro de Ciências do Mar.


Sexual selection theory predicts that, in organisms with reversed sex roles, more polyandrous species exhibit higher levels of sexual dimorphism. In the family Syngnathidae (pipefish, seahorses, and seadragons), males provide all parental care by carrying developing embryos on their ventral surfaces, and females develop secondary sex characters. Syngnathids exhibit a variety of genetic mating patterns, making them an ideal group to test predictions of sexual selection theory. Here, we describe the mating system of the black-striped pipefish Syngnathus abaster, using 4 highly variable microsatellites to analyze parentage of 102 embryos. Results revealed that 1) both sexes mate multiple times over the course of a pregnancy (polygynandrous mating system), 2) eggs are spatially segregated by maternity within each brood pouch, and 3) larger females have higher mating success (Kolmogorov-Smirnov test; P < 0.05). Together with similar studies of other syngnathid species, our results support the hypothesis that the mating system is related to the intensity of sexual dimorphism.


Syngnathidae; mating system; polyandry; sex-role reversal; sexual dimorphism; sexual selection

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