We report a functional switching valve within the female genitalia of the Brazilian cave insect Neotrogla. The valve complex is composed of two plate-like sclerites, a closure element, and in-and-outflow canals. Females have a penis-like intromittent organ to coercively anchor males and obtain voluminous semen. The semen is packed in a capsule, whose formation is initiated by seminal injection. It is not only used for fertilization but also consumed by the female as nutrition. The valve complex has two slots for insemination so that Neotrogla can continue mating while the first slot is occupied. In conjunction with the female penis, this switching valve is a morphological novelty enabling females to compete for seminal gifts in their nutrient-poor cave habitats through long copulation times and multiple seminal injections. The evolution of this switching valve may have been a prerequisite for the reversal of the intromittent organ in Neotrogla.
- evolutionary biology
- sexual selection
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)