Alternative delivery of male accessory gland products

V. Zizzari, I. Smolders, J.M. Koene

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


To increase fertilization success, males transfer accessory gland products (Acps). Several species have evolved unconventional Acps transfer modes, meaning that Acps are transferred separately from the sperm. By surveying the sperm-free Acps transfer cases, we show that these animals have evolved a common strategy to deliver Acps: they all inject Acps directly through the partner's body wall into the hemolymph. Our review of this mode of Acps transfer reveals another striking similarity: they all transfer sperm in packages or via the skin, which may leave little room for Acps transfer via the conventional route in seminal fluid. We synthesise the knowledge about the function, and the effects in the recipients, of the Acps found in the widely diverse taxa (including earthworms, sea slugs, terrestrial snails, scorpions and salamanders) that inject these substances. Despite the clearly independent evolution of the injection devices, these animals have evolved a common alternative strategy to get their partners to accept and/or use their sperm. Most importantly, the evolution of the injection devices for the delivery of Acps highlights how the latter are pivotal for male reproductive success and, hence, strongly influence sexual selection. © 2014 Zizzari et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Article number32
JournalFrontiers in Zoology
Issue number2014
Early online date7 Apr 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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