Piras, Francesca and Biagi, Francesca and Floris, Antonello and Farina, Vittorio and Zedda, Marco and Franzoi, Piero and Carcupino, Marcella (2015) Intra- and intermale variability of mature sperm traits analysed in two brackish water populations of the pipefish Syngnathus abaster (Syngnathidae). Acta Zoologica (in press). eISSN 1463-6395. Article.
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Sperm cells are highly diversified in animals, and considerable research effort has focused on variation in sperm morphology among species. Surprisingly, little is known about intraspecific variation in sperm morphology. We analysed within- and between-male variation in mature sperm traits in two brackish water populations of the pipefish Syngnathus abaster. Four morphometric parameters, such as the width and length of the head (including nucleus, and midpiece), length of flagellum and total sperm length were taken into account. The differences in all morphometric parameters analysed between populations were not statistically significant. Moreover, the multidimensional scaling analysis shows that (i) the two populations seem to be indistinguishable based on their spermatozoa and (ii) there is not polymorphism, being sperm not distinguishable into discrete classes both within a single male and between males of each populations. The latter datum does not seem to support the presence of polymorphic sperm in syngnathids. Both populations, however, exhibit a high variation in all sperm traits, both among individual sperm within an ejaculate and among males within each population. The relationship between sperm traits variability and the low selection pressure determined by the absence of postcopulatory sexual selection (i.e. absence of sperm competition) is discussed.
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