Dichotomous sperm in Lepidopteran insects: a biorational target for pest management

Stuart Reynolds, Rakesh K Seth, Priya Yadav

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Lepidoptera are unusual in possessing two distinct kinds of sperm, regular nucleated (eupyrene) sperm and anucleate (apyrene) sperm (‘parasperm’). Sperm of both types are transferred to the female and are required for male fertility. Apyrene sperm play ‘helper’ roles, assisting eupyrene sperm to gain access to unfertilized eggs and influencing the reproductive behavior of mated female moths. Sperm development and behavior are promising targets for environmentally safer, target-specific biorational control strategies in lepidopteran pest insects. Sperm dimorphism provides a wide window in which to manipulate sperm functionality and dynamics, thereby impairing the reproductive fitness of pest species. Opportunities to interfere with spermatozoa are available not only while sperm are still in the male (before copulation), but also in the female (after copulation, when sperm are still in the male-provided spermatophore, or during storage in the female’s spermatheca). Biomolecular technologies like RNAi, miRNAs and CRISPR-Cas9 are promising strategies to achieve lepidopteran pest control by targeting genes directly or indirectly involved in dichotomous sperm production, function, or persistence.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1198252
Pages (from-to)1-26
Number of pages26
JournalFrontiers in Insect Science
Publication statusPublished - 23 Aug 2023

Bibliographical note

RS sincerely acknowledges the financial support from International Atomic Energy Agency(IAEA), Vienna funded under FAO/IAEA Coordinated Research Projects.


  • Lepidoptera
  • RNAi
  • initiatorin
  • pest management
  • serine endopeptidase
  • sperm activation
  • sperm motility
  • spermatozoa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Insect Science


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