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Evidence Against Self-Fertilization in the Hermaphroditic Flatworm Dugesia Gonocephala (Tricladida, Paludicola)

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image of Netherlands Journal of Zoology
For more content, see Archives Néerlandaises de Zoologie (Vol 1-17) and Animal Biology (Vol 53 and onwards).

The individual cocoon production of 50 specimens of the simultaneous hermaphroditic flatworm Dugesia gonocephala was followed in the laboratory for nine months. (I) Though cocoons were produced continuously, the number of fertilized cocoons decreased to zero in six months. (II) Twenty-one worms produced no cocoons, 16 produced only unfertilized cocoons and the remaining 13 produced at least one fertilized cocoon. (III) In the latter the proportion of fertilized cocoons relative to the total number produced, decreased with time. This was not compensated for by an increase in the number of hatched young. (IV) In sections of worms that produced either only fertilized cocoons, or only unfertilized cocoons or a combination of first fertilized, than unfertilized and finally no cocoons at all, sperm was only found in the seminal receptacles (near the ovaries) of a worm that produced only fertilized cocoons. All individuals had many sperm in the seminal vesicles of their male reproductive system. These results strongly suggest that self-fertilization does not occur in D. gonocephala.

Affiliations: 1: Research Group Zoology, L.U.C., 3590 Diepenbeek, Belgium; 2: Max-Planck-Institut für Ver-haltensphysiologle, 82319 Seewiesen, Germany


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