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INVERTEBRATE MEDICINE, Second Edition BLOG

Hot Topic Article: Disposable penis and its replenishment in a simultaneous hermaphrodite.

Ayami Sekizawa of the Department of Biology and Geosciences, Osaka City University, Osaka Japan and colleagues have discovered that a species of nudibranch can autotomize its penis after copulating, and via "penis replenishment," is able to
copulate again in less than 24 hours. Following copulation penis autotomy occurred within 30 minutes. The authors observed and recorded over 30 reciprocal copulations for this study. Like many gastropods, Chromodoris reticulata is a simultaneous hermaphrodite, but this mating behavior is unusual and to the authors' knowledge unique.

Abstract:

Although it is often thought that sexual selection is weaker in simultaneous hermaphrodites than in gonochorists, some simultaneous hermaphrodites exhibit bizarre mating behaviour. In the simultaneously hermaphroditic nudibranch Chromodoris reticulata, we found a peculiar mating behaviour, wherein the nudibranch autotomized its penis after each copulation and was able to copulate again within 24 h. To have sufficient length to be replenished for three copulations, the penis is compressed and spiralled internally. No other animal is known to repeatedly copulate using such ‘disposable penes’. Entangled sperm masses were observed on the outer surface of the autotomized penis, which is equipped with many backward-pointed spines. There is a possibility that the nudibranch removes sperm already stored in a mating partner's sperm storage organ(s).

http://rsbl.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/9/2/20121150
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