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When sex goes to their heads: Sea slugs have a two-pronged strategy

Date:
November 12, 2013
Source:
Universitaet Tübingen
Summary:
Slugs may ensure mating success with a shot to beloved’s forehead, say evolutionary biologists.

Siphopteron marine slugs mating: prostate secretions are injected into the partner’s tissue.
Credit: Johanna Werminghausen/ University of Tübingen

Slugs may ensure mating success with a shot to beloved's forehead, say Tübingen evolutionary biologists.

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Humans are encouraged to say it with flowers, but a small marine slug prefers to inject his mate with prostate secretions while 'making love'. The Siphopteron species mates in the usual way, placing sperm inside the female's genital tract -- while also using a special cannula to deposit proteins close to her central nervous system.

Dr. Rolanda Lange, Johanna Werminghausen and Dr. Nils Anthes of the Institute of Evolution and Ecology at Tübingen University describe the process in the current online edition of Proceedings of the Royal Society B. While this kind of cephalo-traumatic secretion transfer has been observed in a number of species, this particular shot to the head is something new.

Dr. Rolanda Lange and her team of researchers suspect that the secretion contains bioactive proteins which can enter the female's nervous system to manipulate reproduction -- possibly increasing the number of eggs laid or ensuring that the most recent sperm are preferred to those of earlier mates.

And if that sound a little below the belt, bear in mind that Siphopteron is a hermaphrodite -- any "female" thus manipulated will get a chance to wear the trousers next time round.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Universitaet Tübingen. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. R. Lange, J. Werminghausen, N. Anthes. Cephalo-traumatic secretion transfer in a hermaphrodite sea slug. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2013; 281 (1774): 20132424 DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2013.2424

Cite This Page:

Universitaet Tübingen. "When sex goes to their heads: Sea slugs have a two-pronged strategy." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 November 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131112200459.htm>.
Universitaet Tübingen. (2013, November 12). When sex goes to their heads: Sea slugs have a two-pronged strategy. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 28, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131112200459.htm
Universitaet Tübingen. "When sex goes to their heads: Sea slugs have a two-pronged strategy." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131112200459.htm (accessed March 28, 2015).

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