Several taxa of pulmonate land snails exhibit a conspicuous mating behaviour, the shooting of so-called love darts. During mating, such land snail species stab a mating partner with a mucus-coated dart. It has previously been shown that the sperm donor physiologically influences the sperm recipient via the mucus covering the dart and thereby decreases the number of sperm digested by the recipient. However, the generality of this effect of the dart's mucus is unclear, because almost all the previous studies on the effect of the mucus used the brown garden snail Cornu aspersum from the family Helicidae. Therefore, the relationship between the acquisition of the mucus effect on the recipient and the evolution of the dart itself, and its mucus, is still open to debate. To test the commonality of the physiological effect of the dart mucus, we examined this in Euhadra peliomphala, a species from the Bradybaenidae family, and compared our findings with the results of previous work using C.aspersum. Our experiments showed that in E. peliomphala, the dart mucus had a physiological effect and lowered the accessibility of the gametolytic organ, as found in C.aspersum. This indicates that in various dart-bearing species the mucus from the dart glands targets the same organ and that the inhibition of sperm digestion has played a crucial role in the evolution of the dart and its mucus.
Kimura, K., Chiba, S., & Koene, J. M. (2014). Common effect of the mucus transferred during mating in two dart-shooting snail species from different families. Journal of Experimental Biology, (217), 1150-1153. https://doi.org/10.1242/jeb.095935