Acquisition of novel muscles enabled protruding and retracting mechanisms of female penis in sex-role reversed cave insects

Zixin Cheng, Yoshitaka Kamimura, Rodrigo L. Ferreira, Charles Lienhard, Kazunori Yoshizawa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Brazilian sex-role reversed cave insects (genus Neotrogla) have a striking structure called the gynosome (or female penis), which deeply penetrates male vagina-like genitalia during copulation to receive nutritious semen. However, the protruding and retracting mechanisms of the female penis, including their evolutionary origin, are poorly understood. By using micro-computed tomography (μCT), we compared the genital morphology and musculature between species with a gynosome and others lacking this structure. As a result, we discovered two groups of muscles related to the protrusion and retraction of gynosomes. These muscles were also observed in species with non-protrusible prepenis. This suggests that evolution of these muscles preceded the acquisition of the protruding function of the gynosome, originally having a putative stimulatory function to receive nutritious semen. This intermediate stage probably allowed for the reversal of genital functions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number220471
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Volume10
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023 Jan 11

Keywords

  • Neotrogla
  • female genitalia
  • gynosome
  • homology
  • muscle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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