Independent origins of female penis and its coevolution with male vagina in cave insects (Psocodea: Prionoglarididae)

Kazunori Yoshizawa, Rodrigo L. Ferreira, Izumi Yao, Charles Lienhard, Yoshitaka Kamimura

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


The cave-dwelling psocid tribe Sensitibillini (Afrotrogla, Neotrogla and Sensitibilla) is of special morphological and evolutionary interest because of its possession of reversed copulatory organs: i.e. females of Afrotrogla and Neotrogla have a penis-like organ. The female penis structure is highly variable among taxa, as is the case of the male penis in animals with normal copulatory organs. Here, we present the first molecular phylogeny of Sensitibillini and analyse the evolutionary pattern of their genitalia. Afrotrogla and Neotrogla did not form a monophyletic clade, and their female penis structures are significantly different, suggesting two independent origins of the female penis within Sensitibillini. In Neotrogla, the species that has a simple female penis is embedded among species that have an elaborate penis, and detailed structures of the female penis elaborations are in exact agreement among species, suggesting a secondary simplification of the female penis. A correlated evolutionary pattern between male and female genitalia was also detected. This coevolution of genitalia may suggest that sexual conflict or cryptic ‘male’ choice drove the diversity of the female penis, as is the case of male penile diversity in animals with conventional genitalia.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20180533
JournalBiology letters
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Nov 1


  • Cryptic mate choice
  • Genital evolution
  • Reversed direction of sexual selection
  • Sexual conflict
  • Sexually antagonistic coevolution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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