Bundles of sperm : structural diversity in scorpion sperm packages illuminates evolution of insemination in an ancient lineage (American Museum novitates, no. 3993)

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American Museum of Natural History.
The spermatozoa of scorpions are often bundled together, forming a type of sperm conjugation known as a sperm package. Sperm packages may be found inside the testes and seminal vesicles but vanish in the female atrium, leaving free spermatozoa. Previous studies, based on a limited number of taxa, suggested a diversity of sperm package morphology across the order Scorpiones C.L. Koch, 1850. However, the sperm packages of most scorpion taxa remained unknown. The present study provides the first systematic survey of sperm package morphology across the order, covering 89 exemplar species in 66 genera and 19 families representing all suprafamilial ranks, with a more detailed investigation of the family Bothriuridae Simon, 1880. Whereas all exemplar species of scorpions exhibit sperm packages, Buthida Soleglad and Fet, 2003, including Chaerilidae Pocock, 1893, and most Buthidae C.L. Koch, 1837, present unorganized sperm or loosely organized bundles. Although the details vary, three main types of sperm packages may be recognized in all other families: single folded; straight; and multiple folded. Subtypes may be identified according to general shape and folding patterns, mainly among sperm packages that are folded multiple times. Single-folded sperm packages are the most common type observed in the order. Although most sperm packages lack a covering, a conspicuous secretion sheath may be evident, e.g., in some Chactidae Pocock, 1893. Sperm packages vary in length from 112–354 μm and bent sperm packages are not necessarily longer than straight sperm packages. Four exemplar species of Bothriuridae reveal that variation in sperm count within a single sperm package is consistent with the count derived in spermatogenesis. The diversity of sperm packages suggests a path from free spermatozoa, via bent sperm packages, to other forms. Sperm packages may aid in the transport, cooperation, competition, and survival of spermatozoa. The diverse morphology, function, and evolution of sperm packages merit further investigation.
50 pages : illustrations ; 26 cm.
Scorpions -- Spermatozoa -- Morphology., Spermatozoa -- Ultrastructure., Arachnida -- Spermatozoa -- Morphology., Scorpions -- Phylogeny., Arachnida -- Phylogeny.