Genital Complexities Do Matter When It Comes to Hooking Up With Opposite Sex
Evolutionary biologist Michal Polak and co-author Arash Rashed, now at the University of California, Berkeley have said that genitalia complexities in some male species have developed because they assist the male in "holding her securely."
Polak said that he would be using the laser in a variety of ways in his research.
The study showed that without a doubt among the fruit fly species Drosophila bipectinata Duda, the males' penile peculiarities assisted them in copulation.
The researchers used a laser ablation technique to cut off tiny "intromittent" spines on the genitalia of virgin male D. bipectinata Duda fruit flies.
"We refer to these genital spines as intromittent because they insert [them] into female external genitalia during copulation, and not because they insert into the reproductive tract," said the authors.
The study concluded that the male genital spines serve two functions.
When the spines were removed, the males experienced drastic reductions in ability to copulate and ability to compete against rival males for mates.
However, if the males were able to copulate, they found that insemination and fertilization rates were not significantly different.
But Polak said that they still have a long way to go in their research.
"We are using the laser for a variety of projects, including to surgically excise other genital traits and the tiny but elaborate male sex 'combs' used in courtship, and to study their adaptive function in sexual selection," he added.
The study was published online in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.