Twin intromittent organs of Drosophila for traumatic insemination

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In several animals, male genitalia create insemination wounds in areas outside the genital orifice of females. I report that such traumatic insemination (TI) occurs in the Drosophila bipectinata complex (Diptera: Drosophilidae) and illustrate a previously unknown evolutionary pathway for this behaviour. Flash fixation of mating pairs revealed the dual function of the paired claw-like basal processes, previously misidentified as a bifid aedeagus: (i) penetration of the female body wall near the genital orifice and (ii) sperm transfer into the genital tract through the wounds. Basal processes in closely related species (Drosophila ananassae and Drosophila pallidosa) also wounded females but did not transfer sperm; this represents a transitional state to TI as observed in the bipectinata complex. Copulatory wounding is suggested to occur in other allied species of the Drosophila melanogaster species group, including D. melanogaster. Ubiquitous sexual conflicts over mating may have led to the evolution of novel intromittent organs for insemination.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)401-404
Number of pages4
JournalBiology letters
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2007 Aug 22
Externally publishedYes


  • Copulatory wounding
  • Drosophila
  • Genital evolution
  • Traumatic insemination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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