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Joris M. Koene

VU University
De Boelelaan 1085
Amsterdam, n/a 1081HV
the Netherlands

+31 20 5987095

Taxa Studied: Invertebrate Animals
Techniques Employed: Degenerate PCR, Quantitative PCR (qPCR), Sectioning for Histology, Scanning Electron Microscopy, Other, Behaviour, Energy budgets, Molecular phylogeny, Microsatellites, Gene identification, Biochemical analysis, Immunohistochemistry, Micro-surgery, Neuroanatom and Electrophysiology
Research Description: In animals that mate promiscuously, store sperm and fertilise internally, the sperm from two or more donors usually compete for access to eggs. Such sperm competition often leads to sexual conflict, because traits that are advantageous to the sperm donor can be harmful to the recipient. In species with separate sexes, many recent studies have focussed on sperm competition, sexual conflicts and counter-adaptive arms races, and have shown their severe impact on the evolution of mating interactions, genital morphologies, gametes, seminal products and speciation. For simultaneous hermaphrodites, despite substantial theoretical work, it remains unclear how general sperm competition and the resulting sexual conflicts are. Moreover, the underlying mechanisms are largely unexplored. Our aim is to address these proximate and ultimate questions, in many cases using the the model species Lymnaea stagnalis (Great pond snail). Ultimate issues to be tackled are the evolution of reproductive morphology and allohormones between species as well as the functional significance of differences in lifetime reproductive success they cause within L. stagnalis. Proximate issues include the development of these differences as well as the mechanism underlying mating decisions and differential sperm allocation (e.g. based on pheromones or learning). The integrative nature of this research implies the use of a range of techniques, including quantification of behaviour and resource investment, molecular phylogeny reconstruction, paternity analysis, identification of allohormone-encoding genes, biochemical analysis, immunohistochemistry, micro-surgery, neuroanatomy and electrophysiology. The aim is to integrate the findings into a complete picture of why and how sperm competition and sexual conflict affect these simultaneous hermaphrodites. Such a broad synthesis is expected to significantly contribute to a full and correct understanding of hermaphroditism as a reproductive strategy.
Lab Web Page: http://www.joriskoene.com/
Willing to Host Undergraduates: YES
Actively Seeking Undergraduates: YES
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