Eur. J. Entomol. 113: 184-191, 2016 | 10.14411/eje.2016.022

Do sexually dimorphic glands in the harvestman Gryne perlata (Arachnida: Opiliones) release contact pheromones during mating?

Jéssica M. DIAS1,2, Rodrigo H. WILLEMART1,2,3,*
1 Laboratório de Ecologia Sensorial e Comportamento de Artrópodes, Escola de Artes, Ciências e Humanidades, Universidade de São Paulo, Rua Arlindo Béttio, 1000, Ermelino Matarazzo, São Paulo - SP, 03828-000 Brazil; e-mails: jessica.morais.dias@usp.br, willemart@usp.br
2 Programa de Pós Graduação em Zoologia, Instituto de Biociências, Universidade de São Paulo, Rua do Matão, 321, Travessa 14, Cidade Universitária, São Paulo - SP, 05508-090 Brazil
3 Programa de Pós Graduação em Ecologia e Evolução, Universidade Federal de São Paulo, Campus Diadema, Rua Professor Artur Riedel, 275, Jardim Eldorado, Diadema - SP, 09972-270 Brazil

There are records of glands that produce sexual pheromones that are released into the environment or applied directly on sexual partners. Within Opiliones (Arachnida), several harvestmen in the suborder Laniatores have sexually dimorphic glands on legs I and IV, the mode of use of which is recorded only in two species but their function is unknown: while walking, males rub the glands against the substrate or against their body. Here we test an alternative and non-exclusive hypothesis that the glands present on the legs of male Gryne perlata (Cosmetidae) produce contact pheromones used in mating. We predicted that males would touch the females with the gland openings or with other male body parts previously rubbed by these glands. We also predicted that there are chemoreceptors on those parts of the females where males touch them. We analyzed 13 videos of G. perlata mating, a species in which the males have glands on legs I and IV of unknown function. We also analyzed 14 videos of Discocyrtus pectinifemur (Gonyleptidae) mating as a control, a species that lacks these glands. Finally, we looked for chemoreceptors on the legs of female G. perlata using a scanning electron microscope. During copulation, males of both species rubbed the legs of females with their first pair of legs, but not with the regions of these legs where the openings of the glands are. The fourth pair of legs were only used to support the body. Rubbing other body parts of the female by males with their glands was not observed during mating. Setae on the legs of the female did not have tip pores and therefore do not seem to be chemoreceptors. We therefore did not find any evidence that these sexually dimorphic glands in G. perlata release contact pheromones during mating.

Keywords: Arachnida, Opiliones, Laniatores, Cosmetidae, Gryne perlata, Gonyleptidae, Discocyrtus pectinifemur, chemical communication, copulation, sexually dimorphic glands

Received: September 21, 2015; Accepted: December 22, 2015; Published online: February 5, 2016

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