Mitochondrial DNA polymorphisms and sperm motility in Mytilus edulis (Bivalvia: Mytilidae).


The system of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) inheritance in Mytilus and other bivalves, termed doubly uniparental inheritance (DUI), is novel among animals. Males pass on their male transmitted (M-type) mtDNA from fathers to their sons whereas females pass on their female transmitted (F-type) mtDNA from mothers to both sons and daughters. Thus, Mytilus males contain two distinct types of mtDNA. Interestingly, sperm contains only the paternal mtDNA. Phylogenetic analysis has shown that some female types have been able to switch their route of inheritance. These "recently masculinized" mitochondrial genomes behave as a typical M-type in that they are transmitted from generation to generation through sperm. Because the "recently masculinized" and "standard" male mitotypes in M. edulis exhibit approximately 8.7% amino acid sequence divergence, we hypothesized that these differences could affect mitochondrial, and hence sperm, functions. Furthermore, since recently masculinized mitotypes have been shown to replace standard male types periodically over evolutionary timescales, we tested the hypothesis that sperm swimming speeds would be greater for males with recently masculinized M-type genomes. Sperm activity was videotaped, digitized and tracked. A linear mixed effects model found no significant difference in linear velocities or curvilinear speeds between the mitotypes suggesting that swimming speeds are similar for both in the period shortly after spawning.


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