Genitalia morphology

Morphology of male reproductive organs in the red flour beetle

Supervisor: Lennart Winkler (BIO Room 257) & Dr. Tim Janicke


Project start: From summer 2021

Background: The morphology of the male penis has potentially substantial influence on the reproductive success of males. This implies that sexual selection influences the evolution of male genital morphology. The male genital morphology of Tribolium castaneum might play an important role in male fertilization success, by influencing the outcome sperm competition and post-copulatory female choice (Haubruge et al. 1999; Arnaud et al. 2001). We would like to quantify male genital morphology (length measures and geometric morphometrics) to investigate if these measures influence male paternity success. Furthermore, one could study the allometry of the male penis to infer selective pressures. This project requires preliminary experiments to establish a protocol to dissect and measure the male copulatory organ. The project would include microscopy techniques and potentially behavioural observations.


Arnaud L, Haubruge E, Gage MJG. 2001. Morphology of Tribolium castaneum male genitalia and its possible role in sperm competition and cryptic female choice. Belg J Zool.(131 (2)):111–115.

Haubruge E, Arnaud L, Mignon J, & Gage MJG (1999). Fertilization by proxy : rival sperm removal and translocation in a beetle. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B, 266, 1183–1187.