Seminal fluid and spermatophore production in a western Atlantic invasive swimming crab, Charybdis hellerii, reveals a different pattern to portunoidea.
The male reproductive system in Portunoidea is voluminous in order to produce the sperm plug, avoiding sperm competition. The portunid crab, Charybdis hellerii, is a successful invasive species, and this study describes the male reproductive system under light and electron microscopy and evaluates the gonadosomatic index and spermatophore dehiscence compared to other species that produce a sperm plug. The reproductive system is small, and its gonadosomatic index much lower than those of other Portunoidea that produce a sperm plug. The spermatophores are stored in the anterior part of the vas deferens, which is uncommon in Brachyura. Lateral outpocketings are found in the short, middle, and posterior parts of the vasa deferentia, where spermatophores are not found. The seminal fluid composition is different from the species that produce sperm plug. The usual portunid spermatophore wall is absent and the round coenospermic to even cleistospermic spermatophores are enclosed by secretions. This mucous-type spermatophore undergoes dehiscence in seawater or when passing through the gonopod. C. hellerii differ from other Portunoidea described regarding a low amount of seminal fluid production, spermatophore storage, and not show traits of producing sperm plugs. These different male reproductive features can lead to different female sperm storage in Portunoidea.