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Article

Pupal Cues Increase Sperm Production but Not Testis Size in an Insect

1
School of Agriculture and Environment, Massey University, Palmerston North 4410, New Zealand
2
Guangxi Key Laboratory of Agric-Environment and Agric-Products Safety, National Demonstration Centre for Experimental Plant Science Education, College of Agriculture, Guangxi University, Nanning 530004, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Klaus H. Hoffmann
Insects 2021, 12(8), 679; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12080679
Received: 22 June 2021 / Revised: 20 July 2021 / Accepted: 26 July 2021 / Published: 28 July 2021
(This article belongs to the Section Insect Ecology, Diversity and Conservation)
Animals adjust their resource allocation strategies to maximize their reproductive benefit under dynamic socio-sexual environments. For example, male insect adults increase their testicular investment with the perceived increase of rivals to gain a competitive advantage in fathering offspring. To date, it is not clear whether insect pupae, which do not feed and crawl, can fine-tune their investment in sperm and testis size according to their social-sexual settings. This knowledge is vital to understanding how male insects respond to their surroundings experienced at different life stages. Using a moth which produces both fertile and unfertile sperm, we demonstrated for the first time that after detecting cues from conspecific pupae regardless of sex, male pupae increased production of both types of sperm at the same rate but kept testis size unchanged. Because most morphological traits are formed during the larval stage in insects, testis size may be fixed after pupation, allowing little room for the pupae to adjust testis size with social changes. Like adults, male pupae with fully grown testes have sufficient resources to produce more sperm of both types according to the perceived increase of sperm competition risk.
Theoretic and empirical studies show that social surroundings experienced by male insects during their larval or adult stage can influence their testicular investment in diverse ways. Although insect pupae do not feed and crawl, they can communicate using sex-specific and/or non-sex specific cues. Yet, it is unknown, in any insect, whether and how male pupae can fine-tune their resource allocation to sperm production and testis size in response to socio-sexual environments. We investigated this question using a moth, Ephestia kuehniella, which produces fertile eupyrene sperm and unfertile apyrene sperm. We held male pupae individually or in groups with different sex ratios, and dissected adults upon eclosion, measured their testis size, and counted both types of sperm. We demonstrated that after exposure to conspecific pupal cues regardless of sex, male pupae increased production of eupyrenes and apyrenes at the same rate but kept testis size unchanged. We suggest that testis size is fixed after pupation because most morphological traits are formed during the larval stage, allowing little room for pupae to adjust testis size. Like adults, male pupae with fully grown testes have sufficient resources to produce more sperm of both types according to the perceived increase in sperm competition risk. View Full-Text
Keywords: spermatogenesis; sperm competition; testes; socio-sexual environment spermatogenesis; sperm competition; testes; socio-sexual environment
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MDPI and ACS Style

Liu, J.; He, X.Z.; Zheng, X.-L.; Zhang, Y.; Wang, Q. Pupal Cues Increase Sperm Production but Not Testis Size in an Insect. Insects 2021, 12, 679. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12080679

AMA Style

Liu J, He XZ, Zheng X-L, Zhang Y, Wang Q. Pupal Cues Increase Sperm Production but Not Testis Size in an Insect. Insects. 2021; 12(8):679. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12080679

Chicago/Turabian Style

Liu, Junyan, Xiong Z. He, Xia-Lin Zheng, Yujing Zhang, and Qiao Wang. 2021. "Pupal Cues Increase Sperm Production but Not Testis Size in an Insect" Insects 12, no. 8: 679. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12080679

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