Onchidoris luteocincta breeding habits

March 18, 2003
From: R.J. Wright

Please could you help me understand the breeding habits of Onchidoris luteocincta. It states that it is hermaphroditic but what does that really mean. Has it still got to find a mate on a breeding cycle every year etc or can it breed asexually without ever meeting another slug, ie cloning. If so what happens to the gene pool; or can it have one encounter with another slug and store the sperm/eggs for the rest of its life cycle like Bees.


Dear Roy,
When you ask about Onchidoris luteocincta I guess you mean Diaphorodoris luteocincta. Species of Onchidoris and Diaphorodoris are both in the family Onchidorididae but are considered to be sufficiently different to be in separate genera. However the identity of the slug your interested in isn't that important because your question applies to all opisthobranchs.

Basically all sea slugs are hermaphrodites which means they have a fully functional set of both male and female reproductive organs. When they reach maturity, which can take a few days to a few months in different species, they find a partner and mate. They lay their eggs in an elaborate egg ribbon and then the eggs develop either directly into a small crawling slugs or indirectly into a swimming veliger larvae. They definitely need to find a mate for breeding and when they do so mating is often reciprocal - which means they both act as male and female simultaneously. In some species the male system develops before the female system. In those cases it seems the animal can act as just a male during mating. I don't know if there has been any research to show that sperm can be stored for long periods of time.

If you have a look at the pages on Life Span, Reproductive System and Larvae you will find information and links to other pages which will give you more background information. Be sure to check out the messages and discussions that are found at the botton of each page as that is where you will find much of the information on the Forum. Also go to the General Topics Page and look through the Index.
Best wishes,
Bill Rudman.

Rudman, W.B., 2003 (Mar 18). Comment on Onchidoris luteocincta breeding habits by R.J. Wright. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/9408

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