A model to explain spermatophore implantation in cephalopods (Mollusca: Cephalopoda) and a discussion on its evolutionary origins and significance



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    1. Laboratório de Malacologia, Departamento de Zoologia, Instituto de Biociências da Universidade de São Paulo. Rua do Matão, Travessa 14, n. 101, CEP 05508-090, São Paulo, SP, Brazil
      E-mail: jeduardo_marian@yahoo.com.br
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E-mail: jeduardo_marian@yahoo.com.br


Male coleoid cephalopods produce spermatophores that can attach autonomously on the female's body during a complex process of evagination called the ‘spermatophoric reaction’, during which the ejaculatory apparatus and spiral filament of the spermatophore are everted and exposed to the external milieu. In some deepwater cephalopods, the reaction leads to the intradermal implantation of the spermatophore, a hitherto enigmatic phenomenon. The present study builds upon several lines of evidence to propose that spermatophore implantation is probably achieved through the combination of (1) an ‘evaginating-tube’ mechanism performed by the everting ejaculatory apparatus and (2) the anchorage provided by the spiral filament's stellate particles. The proposed theoretical model assumes that, as it is exposed to the external milieu, each whorl of the spiral filament anchors to the surrounding tissue by means of its sharp stellate particles. As the ejaculatory apparatus tip continues evaginating, it grows in diameter and stretches lengthwise, enlarging the diameter of the whorl and propelling it, consequently tearing and pushing the anchored tissue outward and backward, and opening space for the next whorl to attach. After the ejaculatory apparatus has been everted and has perforated tissue, the cement body is extruded, possibly aiding in final attachment, and the sperm mass comes to lie inside the female tissue, encompassed by the everted ejaculatory apparatus tube. It is proposed that this unique, efficient spermatophore attachment mechanism possibly evolved in intimate relationship with the adoption of an active mode of life by coleoids. The possible roles of predation pressure and sperm competition in the evolution of this mechanism are also discussed. © 2012 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2012, 105, 711–726.