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Multiple paternity and female sperm usage along egg-case strings of the knobbed whelk, Busycon carica (Mollusca; Melongenidae)
Walker, D.; Power, A.J.; Sweeney-Reeves, M.; Avise, J.C. (2007). Multiple paternity and female sperm usage along egg-case strings of the knobbed whelk, Busycon carica (Mollusca; Melongenidae). Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 151(1): 53-61.
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Walker, D.
  • Power, A.J.
  • Sweeney-Reeves, M.
  • Avise, J.C.

    We used genotypic data from three highly polymorphic microsatellite loci (two autosomal and one sex-linked) to examine micro-spatial and temporal arrangements of genetic paternity for more than 1,500 embryos housed along 12 egg-case strings of the knobbed whelk, Busycon carica. Multiple paternity proved to be the norm in these single-dam families, with genetic contributions of several sires (at least 3.5 on average) being represented among embryos within individual egg capsules as well as along the string. Two strings were studied in much greater detail; five and seven fathers were identified, none of which was among the several males found in consort with the female at her time of egg-laying. Each deduced sire had fathered roughly constant proportions of embryos along most of the string, but those proportions differed consistently among fathers. A few significant paternity shifts at specifiable positions along an egg-case string were also observed. Although the precise physical mechanisms inside a female whelk’s reproductive tract remain unknown, our genetic findings indicate that successive fertilization events (and/or depositions of zygotes into egg capsules) normally occur as near-random draws from a well-but-not-perfectly blended pool of gametes (or zygotes) stemming from stored ejaculates, perhaps in different titers, of a dam’s several mates.

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