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Functional males in pair-mating outcrossing hermaphrodites
- DI BONA, VALERIA, LORENZI, MARIA CRISTINA, SELLA, GABRIELLA
- Biological journal of the Linnean Society 2010 v.100 no.2 pp. 451-456
- sex allocation
- In the mating system of simultaneously hermaphroditic animals, sexual allocation is predicted to vary as a function of the number of potential mates. According to the Hermaphrodite's Dilemma, sexual conflict over the preferred sexual role in hermaphroditic animals is resolved by reciprocity (i.e. by alternating sexual roles), accompanied by the animals' occasional cheating in the preferred role at a relatively low frequency. In a 350-generation-old laboratory strain of the pair-mating outcrossing hermaphroditic polychaete worm Ophryotrocha diadema, we show that 9% of the individuals mated only in the male role over long periods, indicating a male-role preference (temporary functional males). Furthermore, 2% of the individuals mated for their whole lifetime exclusively as males (permanent functional males). These findings indicate that the sex allocation of some individuals may vary from the predicted optimal sex allocation for the population. Morphologically, functional males exhibited a hermaphroditic phenotype (i.e. they matured a single batch of oocytes that they never laid and acted as functional males). We show that temporary functional males appeared in hermaphroditic populations under promiscuous mating regimes significantly more often than under monogamous ones. Indeed, under promiscuity, there are many mating opportunities and O. diadema hermaphrodites compete for mates, whereas, under monogamy, the two partners regularly take turns in laying cocoons and fertilizing their partner's cocoon.