Effects of selected neuropeptides, mating status and castration on male reproductive tract movements and immunolocalization of neuropeptides in earwigs
In earwigs, the male reproductive system is complex, comprising accessory glands and long dual intromittent organs for transfer of materials to the female and for removal of rival sperm. We investigated potential factors altering contractions of the male reproductive tracts in vitro. Tracts from 0-day (newly emerged) males displayed relatively little motility in vitro; however, those from 5-day (intermediate stage of sexual maturity) and 8-day (fully mature) males pulsed vigorously. Both 1 and 100 nM proctolin (RYLPT-OH) stimulated the rate of contraction of reproductive tracts from both 5-day and 8-day males. In contrast, 1 nM and 100 nM FGLa AST (cockroach allatostatin) did not affect pulsations. However, 10 @?M FGLa AST decreased activity of reproductive tracts. Mating decreased motility of tracts from 5-day old males, but did not alter motility of tracts from 8-day old males. Castration of larvae significantly suppressed reproductive tract motility in subsequent 8-day old adults compared with those of intact or sham-operated adults. Castration also suppressed seminal vesicle size. Lastly, we assessed the presence and distribution of proctolin-like and allatostatin-like immunoreactivity in tissues. Immunoreactivity to FGLa AST and proctolin was widespread, occurring in the brain and ventral ganglia. Surprisingly, we did not detect immunoreactivity to either FGLa AST or proctolin within the reproductive system; however, proctolin immunoreactivity was evident in nerves extending from the terminal ganglion of 8-day, but not 0-day, males. Collectively, these experiments demonstrate that the male earwig reproductive system is an appropriate model for use in addressing sexual maturation and activities in male insects.