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Keywords:

  • squids;
  • Loliginidae;
  • reproduction;
  • spermatophore;
  • spermatophoric reaction;
  • sperm transfer mechanisms

Abstract

During copulation, spermatophores produced by male coleoid cephalopods undergo the spermatophoric reaction, a complex process of evagination that culminates in the attachment of the spermatangium (everted spermatophore containing the sperm mass) on the female's body. To better understand this complicated phenomenon, the present study investigated the functional morphology of the spermatophore of the squid Doryteuthis plei applying in vitro analysis of the reaction, as well as light and electron microscopy investigation of spermatangia obtained either in vitro, or naturally attached on females. Hitherto unnoticed functional features of the loliginid spermatophore require a reappraisal of some important processes involved in the spermatophoric reaction. The most striking findings concern the attachment mechanism, which is not carried out solely by cement adhesive material, as previously believed, but rather by an autonomous, complex process performed by multiple structures during the spermatophoric reaction. During evagination, the ejaculatory apparatus provides anchorage on the targeted tissue, presumably due to the minute stellate particles present in the exposed spiral filament. Consequently, the ejaculatory apparatus maintains the attachment of the tip of the evaginating spermatophore until the cement body is extruded. Subsequently, the cement body passes through a complex structural rearrangement, which leads to the injection of both its viscid contents and pointed oral region onto the targeted tissue. The inner membrane at the oral region of the cement body contains numerous stellate particles attached at its inner side; eversion of this membrane exposes these sharp structures, which presumably adhere to the tissue and augment attachment. Several naturally attached spermatangia were found with their bases implanted at the deposition sites, and the possible mechanisms of perforation are discussed based on present evidence. The function of the complex squid spermatophore and its spermatophoric reaction is revisited in light of these findings. J. Morphol. 2012. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.