Last–male sperm precedence in the bushcricket Poecilimon veluchianus (Orthoptera, Tettigonioidea) demonstrated by DNA fingerprinting



Males of the bushcricket Poecilimon veluchianus pass a large spermatophore to the female during mating. The spermatophore is eaten by the female after copulation. Because females mate with several males during their reproductive life, the competition between spermatozoa of different males affects a male's reproductive success. In order to determine the outcome of sperm competition, the paternity of the progeny of double–mated females was established by DNA fingerprinting with the oligonucleotide (GATA)4. Typical P. veluchianus DNA fingerprints consisted of 15 scoreable fragments per individual. The proportion of bands shared between presumably unrelated bushcrickets was 17%. After the second copulation the second mating male clearly predominated at fertilization. The mean proportion of eggs fertilized by the second male was 90.1%. There was no significant relationship between the level of sperm precedence and the time of ovipositions after the second mating. If female P. veluchianus increase the fitness of their offspring by the incorporation of spermatophore–derived substances in developing eggs, there is little chance for the feeding male to fertilize eggs containing his nutrients, because of the very short mating intervals of females and the observed high level of last–male sperm precedence in this species. Under such conditions the last mating male would fertilize many eggs containing nutrients from a prior male. Because nuptial gifts, like the tettigoniid spermatophore, function only as paternal investment if the donating male's progeny benefit from the gift, a paternal investment function of the P. veluchianus spermatophore seems to be unlikely.