The functional significance of chiral genitalia: patterns of asymmetry, functional morphology and mating success in the praying mantis Ciulfina baldersoni

Gregory I. Holwell, Olga Kazakova, Felicity Evans, James C. O'Hanlon, Katherine L. Barry

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    11 Citations (Scopus)
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    Abstract

    Genital asymmetry is relatively common and widespread throughout the animal kingdom. The functional significance of genital asymmetry is however, poorly understood for most species. Male praying mantids of the genus Ciulfina are remarkable in possessing complex and directionally asymmetric genital phallomeres in some species, and chirally dimorphic/antisymmetric genitalia in others. Here we explore the chiral dimorphism in male genitalia of Ciulfina baldersoni which appear to exhibit genital antisymmetry. We test whether genital orientation influences mating success, copulation duration and the attachment duration of spermatophores. Additionally we investigate genital interactions between male and females using x-ray micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Lastly we assess whether genital asymmetry is associated with non-genital morphological asymmetry of a range of traits. Our results highlight the complex functional morphology of genitalia in this praying mantis species and yet demonstrate no functional difference between dextral and sinistral morphs other than the direction of attachment with both morphs enjoying equal levels of mating success. Chiral morphs also did not strongly associate with any other forms of asymmetry. We therefore conclude that genital chirality in Ciulfina baldersoni is a likely case of antisymmetry with no functional significance to genital orientation, and is likely to be selectively neutral.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere0128755
    Pages (from-to)1-14
    Number of pages14
    JournalPLoS ONE
    Volume10
    Issue number6
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 24 Jun 2015

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