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      Neuro-Endocrine Control of Reproduction in Hermaphroditic Freshwater Snails: Mechanisms and Evolution

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          Invertebrates are used extensively as model species to investigate neuro-endocrine processes regulating behaviors, and many of these processes may be extrapolated to vertebrates. However, when it comes to reproductive processes, many of these model species differ notably in their mode of reproduction. A point in case are simultaneously hermaphroditic molluscs. In this review I aim to achieve two things. On the one hand, I provide a comprehensive overview of the neuro-endocrine control of male and female reproductive processes in freshwater snails. Even though the focus will necessarily be on Lymnaea stagnalis, since this is the best-studied species in this respect, extensions to other species are made wherever possible. On the other hand, I will place these findings in the actual context of the whole animal, after all these are simultaneous hermaphrodites. By considering the hermaphroditic situation, I uncover a numbers of possible links between the regulation of the two reproductive systems that are present within this animal, and suggest a few possible mechanisms via which this animal can effectively switch between the two sexual roles in the flexible way that it does. Evidently, this opens up a number of new research questions and areas that explicitly integrate knowledge about behavioral decisions (e.g., mating, insemination, egg laying) and sexual selection processes (e.g., mate choice, sperm allocation) with the actual underlying neuronal and endocrine mechanisms required for these processes to act and function effectively.

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          Most cited references 156

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          Coolidge effect in pond snails: male motivation in a simultaneous hermaphrodite

          Background The simultaneously hermaphroditic pond snail, Lymnaea stagnalis, can mate in the male and female role, but within one copulation only one sexual role is performed at a time. Previous work has shown that male motivation is determined by the availability of seminal fluid in the prostate gland, which is detected via a nervous connection by the brain area controlling male behaviour. Based on this knowledge, patterns of sexual role alternations within mating pairs can be explained. Results The data presented here reveal that these snails can donate and receive sperm several times within 24 hours, and that they have increased mating rates in larger groups (i.e. more mating opportunities). For mating pairs we show, by introducing novel mating partners after copulation, that animals do inseminate new partners, while they are no longer motivated to inseminate their original partners. Conclusion Our findings provide the first direct evidence for higher motivation in a hermaphrodite to copulate when a new partner is encountered. This Coolidge effect seems to be attenuated when mucus trails are excluded, which suggests that a chemical or textural cue may be responsible for mediating this response to sperm competition.
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            How does breeding system variation modulate sexual antagonism?

            The study of sexually antagonistic (SA) traits remains largely limited to dioecious (separate sex), mobile animals. However, the occurrence of sexual conflict is restricted neither by breeding system (the mode of sexual reproduction, e.g. dioecy or hermaphroditism) nor by sessility. Here, we synthesize how variation in breeding system can affect the evolution and expression of intra- and inter-locus sexual conflicts in plants and animals. We predict that, in hermaphrodites, SA traits will (i) display lower levels of polymorphism; (ii) respond more quickly to selection; and (iii) involve unique forms of interlocus conflict over sex allocation, mating roles and selfing rates. Explicit modelling and empirical tests in a broader range of breeding systems are necessary to obtain a general understanding of the evolution of SA traits.
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              Male Accessory Gland Protein Reduces Egg Laying in a Simultaneous Hermaphrodite

              Seminal fluid is an important part of the ejaculate of internally fertilizing animals. This fluid contains substances that nourish and activate sperm for successful fertilization. Additionally, it contains components that influence female physiology to further enhance fertilization success of the sperm donor, possibly beyond the recipient's optimum. Although evidence for such substances abounds, few studies have unraveled their identities, and focus has been exclusively on separate-sex species. We present the first detailed study into the seminal fluid composition of a hermaphrodite (Lymnaea stagnalis). Eight novel peptides and proteins were identified from the seminal-fluid-producing prostate gland and tested for effects on oviposition, hatching and consumption. The gene for the protein found to suppress egg mass production, Ovipostatin, was sequenced, thereby providing the first fully-characterized seminal fluid substance in a simultaneous hermaphrodite. Thus, seminal fluid peptides and proteins have evolved and can play a crucial role in sexual selection even when the sexes are combined.

                Author and article information

                1simpleAnimal Ecology, Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences, VU University Amsterdam, Netherlands
                Author notes

                Edited by: Kathleen A. French, University of California San Diego, USA

                Reviewed by: Kathleen A. French, University of California San Diego, USA; Russell Wyeth, St. Francis Xavier University, Canada

                *Correspondence: Joris M. Koene, Animal Ecology, Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences, VU University, De Boelelaan 1085, 1081HV Amsterdam, Netherlands.; e-mail: joris.koene@
                Front Behav Neurosci
                Front. Behav. Neurosci.
                Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience
                Frontiers Research Foundation
                10 July 2010
                21 October 2010
                : 4
                Copyright © 2010 Koene.

                This is an open-access article subject to an exclusive license agreement between the authors and the Frontiers Research Foundation, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original authors and source are credited.

                Figures: 2, Tables: 3, Equations: 0, References: 153, Pages: 17, Words: 15186
                Review Article


                mollusc, neuropeptide, sexual selection, hormone, sperm, eggs, hermaphrodite, pulmonate


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