ArticlePDF Available

Parthenogenesis in scorpions: Some history - New data

Authors:

Abstract and Figures

Parthenogenesis, a rare phenomenon in Chelicerates, apart from mites, is reviewed in scorpions, notably Tityus serrulatus Lutz & Mello from Brazil, Tityus columbianus (Thorell) from Colombia and Tityus metuendus Pocock from Peru and Brazil. Thelytokous parthenogenesis (with all-female broods) is most often observed. The only known exception to this is T. metuendus in which arrhenotoky (all-male broods) has been observed. In the present paper, current ideas regarding parthenogenesis in scorpions are summarized. The notion of geographic parthenogenesis (‘parthénogenèse géographique’), coined by Vandel in 1928, is discussed. This rule is tentatively exemplified by a new case of parthenogenesis reported in a scorpion of the genus Tityus C. L. Koch, inhabiting ‘Pico da Neblina’ in Brazil / Venezuela
Content may be subject to copyright.
Received: August 27, 2007
Accepted: August 27, 2007
Abstract published online: September 12, 2007
Full paper published online: March 8, 2008
J. Venom. Anim. Toxins incl. Trop. Dis.
V.14, n.1, p.19-44, 2008.
Review article.
ISSN 1678-9199.
PARTHENOGENESIS IN SCORPIONS: SOME HISTORY – NEW DATA
LOURENÇO W. R. (1)
(1) National Museum of Natural History, Department of Systematics and Evolution,
Arthropods, Arachnology Section, Paris, France.
ABSTRACT: Parthenogenesis, a rare phenomenon in Chelicerates, apart from
mites, is reviewed in scorpions, notably Tityus serrulatus Lutz & Mello from Brazil,
Tityus columbianus (Thorell) from Colombia and Tityus metuendus Pocock from Peru
and Brazil. Thelytokous parthenogenesis (with all-female broods) is most often
observed. The only known exception to this is T. metuendus in which arrhenotoky
(all-male broods) has been observed. In the present paper, current ideas regarding
parthenogenesis in scorpions are summarized. The notion of geographic
parthenogenesis (‘parthénogenèse géographique’), coined by Vandel in 1928, is
discussed. This rule is tentatively exemplified by a new case of parthenogenesis
reported in a scorpion of the genus Tityus C. L. Koch, inhabiting ‘Pico da Neblina’ in
Brazil / Venezuela.
KEY WORDS: scorpions, geographic parthenogenesis, review, thelytoky,
arrhenotoky, deutherotoky.
CONFLICTS OF INTEREST: Conference presented in the Symposium
“Reproductive Biology of Scorpions” during the 17
th
International Congress of
Arachnology, August 5–10, 2007, São Pedro, São Paulo State, Brazil.
CORRESPONDENCE TO:
WILSON R. LOURENÇO, Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Département de
Systématique et Evolution, USM 0602, Section Arthropodes (Arachnologie), CP 053,
57 rue Cuvier 75005 Paris, France: Email: arachne@mnhn.fr.
W. R. Lourenço PARTHENOGENESIS IN SCORPIONS: SOME HISTORY – NEW DATA. J. Venom. Anim.
Toxins incl. Trop. Dis., 2008, 14, 1, p.
20
INTRODUCTION
Parthenogenesis (from the Greek παρθενος parthenos = ‘virgin’ + γενεσις genesis =
‘birth’) is a form of reproduction in which the ovum develops without fertilization. With
the exception of mites, this phenomenon is rare among Chelicerates (42-44, 49). It
has, however, been observed in a few species of harvestmen, spiders and scorpions
(4, 9, 10, 14, 24, 53). Of nearly 1600 species of scorpions distributed throughout the
world, pathenogenesis was demonstrated or suggested for only eleven (26, 32). The
first of these was reported by Matthiesen (34) of the São Paulo State University
(UNESP, Rio Claro), in the Brazilian species Tityus serrulatus Lutz & Mello, 1922
(Figures 1 and 2). The other known or suggested parthenogenetic species are Tityus
uruguayensis Borelli, 1901 from Uruguay and Brazil, Tityus columbianus (Thorell,
1876) from Colombia, Tityus trivittatus Kraepelin, 1898 from Argentina, Brazil and
Paraguay, Tityus stigmurus (Thorell, 1876) from Brazil, Tityus metuendus Pocock,
1897 from Peru and Brazil, Ananteris coineaui Lourenço, 1982 from French Guyana,
Centruroides gracilis (Latreille, 1804) from Cuba, Hottentotta hottentotta (Fabricius,
1787) from West Africa, Hottentotta caboverdensis Lourenço and Ythier, 2006 from
the Cape Verde Islands, and Liocheles australasiae (Fabricius, 1775) from the South
Pacific (32, 51, 52, 62) (see Figures 3 to 13). It is obvious, however, that for some of
these species further investigations are yet necessary to clearly confirm
parthenogenetic reproduction. Thelytokous parthenogenesis (with all-female broods)
is the general trend observed among scorpions (24). The only known exception is T.
metuendus in which arrhenotoky (all-male broods) has been observed (28).
In the present review, ideas about parthenogenesis in scorpions are summarized.
The notion of geographic parthenogenesis (or ‘parthénogenèse géographique’) as
coined by Vandel in 1928 (54) is discussed.
ADVANTAGES OF SEXUAL AND PARTHENOGENETIC REPRODUCTION
As already pointed out by Lourenço and Cuellar (27), approximately 95% of all living
species reproduce sexually. The origin of sexual reproduction is not clear, however,
and it has probably evolved independently among living organisms several times.
Since sexual reproduction allows genetic recombination, it should also permit the
rapid incorporation of favorable mutations. Muller (41) was the first to propose that
sex accelerates evolution because two favorable mutations (A and B) are more likely
to arise in different individuals of the same population than in a single individual. In
W. R. Lourenço PARTHENOGENESIS IN SCORPIONS: SOME HISTORY – NEW DATA. J. Venom. Anim.
Toxins incl. Trop. Dis., 2008, 14, 1, p.
21
asexual species, AB can only arise when two similar mutations occur simultaneously
in the same individual (37, 61).
A somewhat similar hypothesis, attempting to explain the advantages of sexual
reproduction, was formulated by Van Valen (55). The environment of any given
species is comprised of two major factors, abiotic and biotic. Abiotic factors consist of
physical factors such as climate, whereas the biotic constitute plants and animal
species in the environment, particularly closely related forms competing with each
other for limited resources such as food. Among such species, any evolutionary
modifications adapting one to the environment may be detrimental to the other, but
their evolution does not influence the abiotic factors. Therefore, each of the
competing species must evolve constantly and rapidly in response to the
modifications of the other. Otherwise, the least adaptable species will ultimately be
eliminated by the selective forces of competition. This is what Van Valen (55) called
‘the Red Queen effect’, in an analogy from Lewis Carol’s book, of ‘Alice in
Wonderland’, in which the Red Queen said to Alice, “Here you see, it takes all the
running you can do to keep in the same place.” In environments such as rain forests
therefore, where competition is extremely intense, sexual reproduction is not merely
advantageous, but a necessity.
The Red Queen hypothesis, however, does not seem to accord with the geographic
distribution of parthenogenetic animals, the majority of which occur in remote habitats
isolated from their bisexual congeners. According to Cuellar (8), the major reason for
the insular distribution of parthenogenetic species is the ability of single individuals to
find a new colony without a member of the opposite sex. Assuming that
parthenogenetic species are truly superior colonizers and have evolved in isolation
away from their bisexual progenitors (6, 8); then, competition does not appear to
have played an important role in their evolution. Aside from the potentially disruptive
influence of competition on the establishment of unisexual clones, fertilization of
virgin females would also eliminate unisexual lineages by disrupting all-femaleness
as well as the meiotic process which regulates constancy of ploidy and the integrity
of the species (6, 7). At least initially, therefore, parthenogenetic species must
escape their bisexual counterparts in order to find new colonies. As long as they
remain isolated from the bisexuals, they can circumvent extinction.
Although sexuality is the predominant mode of reproduction among all organisms, it
is not entirely devoid of costs. The most common of these are meiosis and the
W. R. Lourenço PARTHENOGENESIS IN SCORPIONS: SOME HISTORY – NEW DATA. J. Venom. Anim.
Toxins incl. Trop. Dis., 2008, 14, 1, p.
22
production of males (37, 61). As stated by Mayr (38), “in parthenogenetic animals, all
zygotes are egg-producing females that do not waste half of their eggs on males.”
Nevertheless, sexual reproduction has the long-term advantage, which is
undoubtedly the reason why it has appeared several times during evolutionary
history and is the principal reproductive mechanism in living organisms (1, 36, 61). In
contrast, parthenogenesis is only advantageous under special environments (8), may
not be very old evolutionarily (1), and is considered to be an evolutionary blind alley
(59, 60).
GEOGRAPHIC PARTHENOGENESIS
As previously pointed out by Cuellar (8), an enormous volume of literature has
appeared on animal parthenogenesis in the last 35 years. This ranges from
understanding their genetic structure, phylogenetic and systematic relationships,
ploidy, mechanisms of meiosis, competitive interactions with bisexual species,
modes of origin and, to a much lesser extent, their ecology and geographic patterns
of distribution (1, 7, 8, 60). As a matter of fact, these last two fields remain the least
understood of all the phenomena concerned with the origin of parthenogenesis.
Most research on different zoological groups has been concerned with attempting to
determine whether parthenogenesis has resulted directly from hybridization, despite
the fact that no one has ever produced a parthenogenetic strain through hybridization
(7). The principal field of research is molecular genetics, and the principal tools are
protein electrophoresis and analysis of mitochondrial DNA. Although such molecular
studies have contributed extensively to the understanding of clonal inheritance, we
have progressed very little ecologically since Vandel (54) first published his classical
study on the geography of parthenogenetic animals almost 80 years ago.
The contribution by Vandel (54) was exceptionally important for modern workers
because it established for the first time a connection between parthenogenesis and
specific environments, for which Vandel coined the term ‘parthénogenèse
géographique.’ It is known today as Vandel’s ‘rule of geographic parthenogenesis’.
According to this rule, whenever closely related bisexual and parthenogenetic
species occur in a given region, their geographical patterns tend to be different. In
general, the parthenogenetic species occur in habitats that are further north or
higher, colder or drier than those of their bisexual counterparts (Figure 14). Vandel
(54) developed his rule when analyzing the distribution of the different races of the
W. R. Lourenço PARTHENOGENESIS IN SCORPIONS: SOME HISTORY – NEW DATA. J. Venom. Anim.
Toxins incl. Trop. Dis., 2008, 14, 1, p.
23
isopod Trichoniscus elisabethae. He noted that the bisexual populations occurred
only in the mountains of Southern France, which are extensively forested and damp,
whereas the parthenogenetic populations occupied lower and drier regions. Vandel’s
rule has now been widely cited by modern workers (6, 8, 11, 12, 60), and numerous
new examples have been added to his original list (16, 47, 48, 60).
As already emphasized by Cuellar (8), however, the exact ecological reasons for
these different geographic distributions have not yet been clearly elucidated.
Moreover, there is no conclusive evidence demonstrating that cold alone, aridity, or
high latitudes are responsible for the differences in distribution. Parthenogenesis is
also common at low latitudes as well as in tropical environments which are humid
and warm. Therefore, some factors other than climate and latitude must be involved
in determining its varying different geographic patterns. In discussing the distribution
of Vandel’s isopod Trichoniscus elisabethae, White (59) suggested that the main
reason for the peripheral distribution of the parthenogenetic races might be that they
have found it easier to expand their ranges merely because every individual was
capable of founding a local colony of the species and there was no reproductive
wastage. In proposing this explanation, White emphasized two important attributes of
parthenogenetic animals: a stronger dispersal ability and a higher prolificity
compared with those of bisexuals. Cuellar (6, 8) later suggested that parthenogenetic
species can only exist in habitats that are devoid of bisexual species, first because
fertilization would disrupt the perpetuation of a pure unisexual lineage and, secondly,
competition would impede its expansion. Consequently, parthenogenesis should
theoretically evolve in habitats where males tend to be rare, in remote or insular
habitats where both sexes of a bisexual species are not likely to arrive
simultaneously and, finally, in newly created habitats where high prolificity allows
parthenogenetic forms to invade first, and then to outcompete bisexuals (Figures 14
and 15).
SELECTED EXAMPLES OF GEOGRAPHIC PARTHENOGENESIS IN SCORPIONS
Tityus serrulatus Lutz & Mello, 1922
In the first recorded case of parthenogenesis among scorpions (34), pregnant
females of Tityus serrulatus from Brazil were collected in the field. Their all-female
progeny were then raised individually, giving virgin birth to a second generation from
W. R. Lourenço PARTHENOGENESIS IN SCORPIONS: SOME HISTORY – NEW DATA. J. Venom. Anim.
Toxins incl. Trop. Dis., 2008, 14, 1, p.
24
four to seven months later. Matthiesen’s (34) findings were confirmed some years
afterwards by San Martin and Gambardella (46). Thereafter, Tityus serrulatus was
considered to be an obligate parthenogenetic species. Recently, however, a possible
bisexual population has been detected in the state of Minas Gerais (Figure 16),
Brazil, by Lourenço and Cloudsley-Thompson (23). Tityus serrulatus may possibly
have originated as a savanna-dwelling species (Figure 17), or perhaps inhabited
palm trees. Today, however, it is virtually restricted to human habitations (Figure 18)
and the natural savannas have been converted to agriculture and grazing. Its
postulated original habitat of isolated palm trees within a vast savanna would
conform with the concept of insular parthenogenesis proposed by Cuellar (6, 8) for
the origin of parthenogenetic lizards. According to this author, the chances of
colonizing remote or isolated habitats “are greater if the colonizer can reproduce
without a member of the opposite sex, for it dispenses with the need to have both
sexes reach the same place simultaneously.” With the expansion of human
communities in Western Brazil, the geographic range of T. serrulatus has increased
considerably. Accordingly, it poses an exceptional health problem in Brazil, due not
only to its innate prolificacy and rapid expansion into urban areas, but also to its great
toxicity. This species possesses the most lethal venom of all the South American
scorpions (22, 25, 27, 31).
Within historical times, Tityus serrulatus occupied a restricted area in the state of
Minas Gerais in Brazil, but today it is widely distributed throughout the southeast and
central-western regions of the country. The geographical expansion of this species
has undoubtedly been related to human colonization, which began about 300 years
ago from the Atlantic coastal region westward. Typically, newly erected towns are
invaded within a few years after their foundation, although the surrounding natural
areas are virtually devoid of this species of scorpion. The rapid expansion of T.
serrulatus into human dwellings was recently demonstrated by its invasion of Brasilia
(30). Construction of Brasilia, the capital of Brazil, was initiated in 1956 and
completed during the 1970’s. From 1971 to 1975, a precise inventory of the local
scorpions and their densities was conducted in this region, yielding three species (17,
18): Tityus fasciolatus Pessôa, 1935, Bothriurus araguayae Vellard, 1934 and
Ananteris balzani Thorell, 1891 (17, 18). Among these, T. fasciolatus represented
93% of the total population. This species is similar to T. serrulatus in several traits.
Both average essentially the same adult size (65 versus 67mm), same brood size,
W. R. Lourenço PARTHENOGENESIS IN SCORPIONS: SOME HISTORY – NEW DATA. J. Venom. Anim.
Toxins incl. Trop. Dis., 2008, 14, 1, p.
25
same embryonic development (2.5–3 months) and the same age to maturity (2.0–2.5
years). However, T. fasciolatus is bisexual, with a sex ratio of 1 male to 3 females.
The two species also differ in their type of population regulation, that of T. fasciolatus
being density-dependent and that of T. serrulatus density-independent.
Consequently, the populations of T. fasciolatus have been stable for many years
(17), whereas those of T. serrulatus have fluctuated widely (30). Since the
introduction of T. serrulatus into Brasilia and the adjoining of Federal District during
the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, the populations of T. fasciolatus have been rapidly
declining. A new inventory conducted more recently revealed that T. serrulatus now
constitutes 70% of the scorpions in this urbanized region (30, 31), and is undoubtedly
displacing the bisexual T. fasciolatus. Other cities in Brazil have been similarly
invaded (22, 25, 27).
Scorpionism is well known in Brazil and has been documented there since the end of
the 19
th
Century (22, 25, 31). The first comprehensive study of the phenomenon was
that of Maurano (35), whose work dealt primarily with Tityus bahiensis (Perty, 1833),
the second most toxic species in South America. This species was originally
described in Brazil.
Before the publication of Maurano’s work, not much had appeared in the literature
about scorpion problems in Brazil. This is curious because of the enormous health
problem caused by scorpions there today.
The fact that Maurano’s work dealt only with T. bahiensis, as well as that antivenom
serum has been produced from this species since 1915, can probably be explained
by the fact that T. serrulatus was not described until 1922. However, one important
question can be addressed: how is it that such a common species as T. serrulatus,
well known since the 1920’s, had not been observed previously and was described
rather later than the other common species? According to Magalhães (33), his
laboratory in Minas Gerais received 600,000 specimens between 1922 and 1952.
I have suggested (18) that T. serrulatus may be closely related to Tityus stigmurus
(Thorell), a species (Figure 7) with both sexual and parthenogenetic populations and
with a current distribution further to the north than that of T. serrulatus. Several other
authors, however, have refused categorically to recognize the possible existence, in
the past, of a southern distribution of T. stigmurus covering the present geographic
range of T. serrulatus (40, 45, 57). Others affirm that, before 1920, T. stigmurus was
a common species in the central and southern regions of Brazil in the states of Minas
W. R. Lourenço PARTHENOGENESIS IN SCORPIONS: SOME HISTORY – NEW DATA. J. Venom. Anim.
Toxins incl. Trop. Dis., 2008, 14, 1, p.
26
Gerais, São Paulo and Goiás, where it lived sympatrically with T. serrulatus (39, 56).
During the late 1970’s, I was able to discuss this personally with Jean Vellard and to
examine some of the material that he collected in the late 1920’s, thereby confirming
his results. Tityus stigmurus was undoubtedly a common species in the state of
Minas Gerais and south of Goiás, at least until the late 19th Century.
Tityus stigmurus was originally described from the state of Pernambuco in the
Northeast of Brazil. This is due to the fact that such region had been prospected
earlier in Brazilian history. In the recent past, about 300 years ago, the distribution of
T. stigmurus ranged from Minas Gerais to the northeastern states of Brazil. The date
at which the parthenogenetic species T. serrulatus appeared de novo is difficult to
establish. However, if T. serrulatus was already present in Minas Gerais before the
beginning of the 18th Century, its presence was extremely inconspicuous. At the
beginning of the 18th Century, an important development was engendered by the
Portuguese (especially in their search for gold) with the foundation of towns such as
Curral d’El Rei and Vila Rica de Ouro Preto (15). Previously metaclimax
environments suffered human impact, turning them into a disclimax situation. This
favored the previously discrete parthenogenetic population of Tityus serrulatus, a
much more opportunistic species than T. stigmurus, and enabled it to explore the
newly created disclimax habitat. The expansion of human colonization toward the
west and north resulted in a significant regression of the original bisexual population
of T. stigmurus, which was gradually replaced by a population of T. serrulatus. As
already mentioned, this species usually colonizes urban areas (cities and tows), and
can easily be transported by human agency from old to new cities. Brasilia has been
invaded and was colonized by T. serrulatus in less than 15 years (30).
Tityus columbianus (Thorell, 1876)
Parthenogenesis was first demonstrated in Tityus columbianus (Figure 4) by
Lourenço (20). Although only females had been detected in this Colombian species
since its description, Lourenço (20) also cited the discovery of a single male in the
northern part of its range. Subsequently, a 250km survey conducted throughout its
entire range (Figure 19) revealed the presence of a sexual population in the northern
region, with a female to male sex ratio of about 2:1. The geographic differences in
reproductive effort between sexual populations of this species (from Iza - Figure 20)
and parthenogenetic populations (from Mosquera – Figure 21), both in Colombia,
W. R. Lourenço PARTHENOGENESIS IN SCORPIONS: SOME HISTORY – NEW DATA. J. Venom. Anim.
Toxins incl. Trop. Dis., 2008, 14, 1, p.
27
were compared (29). The sexual females from Iza were significantly larger and had
markedly greater relative litter masses (RLM) than had the parthenogenetic females
from Mosquera (Figure 22). In both populations, litter size increased significantly with
female body size. Iza receives significantly more precipitation during the critical
growing season and is also significantly warmer than Mosquera. In addition,
Mosquera experiences a distinct period of drought in the middle of the summer. This
limits productivity to spring and autumn (for precise values see Lourenço et al. (29)).
The heavier body weights and larger litters of the sexual individuals may therefore be
due to environmental differences in primary productivity (29).
Tityus metuendus Pocock, 1897
Tityus metuendus (Figure 8) is a rainforest species distributed mainly in Western
Amazonia between Brazil and Peru. In the vicinity of Manaus, Brazil (specifically in
the Ducke Reserve), the populations of T. metuendus are strictly sexual with equal
numbers of males and females (19). During field studies in the Amazonian region of
Peru, near Iquitos (the town of Jenaro Herrera), a single juvenile female of T.
metuendus was collected from a palm tree (Astrocaryum chambira – Figure 23) and
brought to the laboratory in Paris (13). About three months after its last molt, on
October 18, 1996, this female gave birth to a brood of 21 neonates. Of these, only
three (all males) survived to the adult stage (Figure 24). A detailed examination of the
size and structure of the pectines of the immature specimens, which died and were
preserved, revealed that the entire brood consisted of males. On September 29,
1997, the same female produced another brood of 32. Three of these did not
complete embryological development and 29 were normal. The normal ones all died
a few days after the first molt. As with the previous brood, examination of the
pectines revealed only males. A third all-male brood was born on April 30, 1998,
bringing further evidence of the possible existence of arrhenotoky in this species. The
production of three consecutive all-male broods by the same virgin female may well
represent the first known case of arrhenotoky (the production of males from
unfertilized eggs) in scorpions (24, 28), and possibly among all Arachnida other than
Acari (42). No data are yet available from scorpions, as there are for other arthropod
groups, such as the Hymenoptera (7, 58) and mites, to explain either the meiotic
mechanism of arrhenotoky or its evolutionary significance (3). According to Taylor
and Sauer (50), a major selective advantage of arrhenotoky compared with diploidy
W. R. Lourenço PARTHENOGENESIS IN SCORPIONS: SOME HISTORY – NEW DATA. J. Venom. Anim.
Toxins incl. Trop. Dis., 2008, 14, 1, p.
28
is that mothers can precisely determine the sex ratios of their offspring by controlling
the fertilization of each egg. This is particularly advantageous in species with finite
mating groups in which the probability is high that some clutches may contain no
males (42), or in which the sex ratio may be biased in favor of females (5). Precise
sex ratios have been documented in the case of several arrhenotokous species of
parasitic wasps (58) which lay their eggs either in a single host or in a clumped group
of hosts. In phytoseiid mites, pseudo-arrhenotoky has apparently arisen as a
consequence of low mobility and a subdivided population structure. Their dominant
prey form patchy infestations which are probably invaded by only a few females,
leading to very small mating groups (42). Similar mating conditions may exist for T.
metuendus, but extensive field work will be needed to explain its life history and
behavior.
A NEW CASE OF PARTHENOGENESIS WITH A TITYUS SPECIES FROM ‘PICO
DA NEBLINA’ IN BRAZIL / VENEZUELA
A few specimens, males and females, of a scorpion belonging to a new species of
the genus Tityus were collected alive by a group of biologists in November 2001 –
January 2002 in the ‘Pico da Neblina’, located between Brazil and Venezuela, at
altitudes ranging from 850–2200m. They were brought to the laboratory and raised,
according to standard methods, in plastic boxes at temperatures of +27°C, with food
and water provided once every week. Courtship and mating behavior of two females
was observed. They gave birth to 14 and 15 offspring, respectively, of which a few
were isolated and reached maturity. Three isolated females were maintained in
rooms were the temperature averaged +18°C. Food and water were provided only
once every 21 days. They gave birth to several broods without being inseminated,
suggesting a new example of parthenogenesis in scorpions. Postembryonic
development was achieved by most members of the different broods and revealed
that all the broods were composed of males and females, suggesting the first case of
deutherotokous (male and female brood) parthenogenesis. Parthenogenetic broods
were smaller – 1 to 8 offspring – than sexual broods (Figure 25). Moreover, the
developmental periods observed in the parthenogenetic broods were shorter than
those observed in other species of Tityus studied (21).
‘Pico da Neblina’ is located in North-Western Amazonia. It is characterized by
considerable diversity of habitats resulting from an orographic zonation of vegetation
W. R. Lourenço PARTHENOGENESIS IN SCORPIONS: SOME HISTORY – NEW DATA. J. Venom. Anim.
Toxins incl. Trop. Dis., 2008, 14, 1, p.
29
and a mosaic pattern of soil types, ranging from 100 to near 3000 meters above sea
level. Lowland primary tropical rainforest is the predominant ecosystem (2). The
vegetation is luxurious from 100 to up to 1000 meters; it is more open and composed
of small trees from 1000 to 1700 meters. From 1800 meters up to the top of the
mountain, the vegetation is very low and the climate much drier. In fact, precipitation
is important up to 1000 meters, and the climate is very wet. Temperatures in the wet
zones range from 28 to 34°C during the day and from 20 to 24°C at night. At altitudes
above 2000 meters, conditions are much drier and stressful. Rain is sparse and
average temperatures fluctuate from 22°C during the day to 12°C at night.
The new species of Tityus was collected in sites ranging from the mesic zones to the
drier zones. When the abiotic conditions of more xeric zones are reproduced in the
laboratory, parthenogenesis appears to be the most advantageous mode of
reproduction. This seems to be in accordance with Vandel’s (54) rule of geographic
parthenogenesis. Several aspects of the reproductive biology of this species are still
under investigation. It will be described, and its complete life cycle outlined later.
Figure 1. Parthenogenetic female of Tityus serrulatus with brood.
W. R. Lourenço PARTHENOGENESIS IN SCORPIONS: SOME HISTORY – NEW DATA. J. Venom. Anim.
Toxins incl. Trop. Dis., 2008, 14, 1, p.
30
Figure 2. Building of the Department of Zoology in the University of Rio Claro in the
late 1960’s, where F. Matthiesen did his work.
Figure 3. Tityus uruguayensis in a gregarious position.
Figure 4. Tityus columbianus in a gregarious position.
W. R. Lourenço PARTHENOGENESIS IN SCORPIONS: SOME HISTORY – NEW DATA. J. Venom. Anim.
Toxins incl. Trop. Dis., 2008, 14, 1, p.
31
Figure 5. Male of Tityus trivittatus.
Figure 6. Female of Tityus trivittatus.
Figure 7. Parthenogenetic female of Tityus stigmurus with brood.
W. R. Lourenço PARTHENOGENESIS IN SCORPIONS: SOME HISTORY – NEW DATA. J. Venom. Anim.
Toxins incl. Trop. Dis., 2008, 14, 1, p.
32
Figure 8. Birth behavior in parthenogenetic female of Tityus metuendus.
Figure 9. Female of Centruroides gracilis.
Figure 10. Female of Hottentotta hottentotta.
W. R. Lourenço PARTHENOGENESIS IN SCORPIONS: SOME HISTORY – NEW DATA. J. Venom. Anim.
Toxins incl. Trop. Dis., 2008, 14, 1, p.
33
Figure 11. Parthenogenetic female of Hottentotta caboverdensis with brood.
Figure 12. Female of Liocheles australasiae with brood.
W. R. Lourenço PARTHENOGENESIS IN SCORPIONS: SOME HISTORY – NEW DATA. J. Venom. Anim.
Toxins incl. Trop. Dis., 2008, 14, 1, p.
34
Figure 13. Map showing the distribution of parthenogenetic populations of scorpions.
Figure 14. Schematic representation of the distribution of sexual and parthenogenetic
populations (geographic parthenogenesis).
W. R. Lourenço PARTHENOGENESIS IN SCORPIONS: SOME HISTORY – NEW DATA. J. Venom. Anim.
Toxins incl. Trop. Dis., 2008, 14, 1, p.
35
Figure 15. Theoretical curves representing the difference between sexual (dotted
line) and parthenogenetic (solid line) population fluctuations in nature. The beginning
of each curve, up to line K (carrying capacity), represents the growth rate during the
invasion of new habitats. Thereafter, sexual populations fluctuate close to K, whereas
the parthenogenetic populations fluctuate radically, overshooting K between
catastrophes due to a high rate of increase, and crashing to a low level during
catastrophes (adapted from Cuellar - 6).
Figure 16. Geographical distribution of Tityus serrulatus (zone I) and possible
location of the sexual population in the north of Minas Gerais State (black circle).
W. R. Lourenço PARTHENOGENESIS IN SCORPIONS: SOME HISTORY – NEW DATA. J. Venom. Anim.
Toxins incl. Trop. Dis., 2008, 14, 1, p.
36
Figure 17. Female of Tityus serrulatus in the wild.
Figure 18. Parthenogenetic female of Tityus serrulatus in the sewer system of
Brazilian cities.
W. R. Lourenço PARTHENOGENESIS IN SCORPIONS: SOME HISTORY – NEW DATA. J. Venom. Anim.
Toxins incl. Trop. Dis., 2008, 14, 1, p.
37
Figure 19. Location of Mosquera and Iza in Colombia where parthenogenetic (P) and
sexual (S) populations of Tityus columbianus are distributed.
Figure 20. The moist valley at Iza.
W. R. Lourenço PARTHENOGENESIS IN SCORPIONS: SOME HISTORY – NEW DATA. J. Venom. Anim.
Toxins incl. Trop. Dis., 2008, 14, 1, p.
38
Figure 21. The dry canyon at Mosquera.
Figure 22. Correlation between clutch size and female body size for Iza and
Mosquera populations of Tityus columbianus (from Lourenço et al., 29).
Figure 23. Palm tree, Astrocaryum chambira, in Peruvian Amazon, where
parthenogenetic female of Tityus metuendus was collected.
W. R. Lourenço PARTHENOGENESIS IN SCORPIONS: SOME HISTORY – NEW DATA. J. Venom. Anim.
Toxins incl. Trop. Dis., 2008, 14, 1, p.
39
Figure 24. Fifth instar adult male of Tityus metuendus issued from parthenogenetic
reproduction.
Figure 25. Female of Tityus sp. from ‘Pico da Neblina’ (Brazil / Venezuela) with
parthenogenetic brood composed of a single offspring.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
I am very grateful to Professor John L. Cloudsley-Thompson, London, for reviewing
the manuscript. My thanks go also to several colleagues who supplied me with
photos used in this article: Eric Ythier, Jan Ove Rein, Elisangela A. da Silva, and
Benedito Barraviera.
W. R. Lourenço PARTHENOGENESIS IN SCORPIONS: SOME HISTORY – NEW DATA. J. Venom. Anim.
Toxins incl. Trop. Dis., 2008, 14, 1, p.
40
REFERENCES
1 BELL G. The Masterpiece of Nature. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982.
2 BOUBLI JP. Lowland floristic assessment of Pico da Neblina National Park, Brazil.
Vegetatio, 2002, 160, 149-67.
3 BULL JJ. The evolution of sex chromosomes and sex determining mechanisms.
California: Benjamin & Cummings, 1983. 316p.
4 CAMACHO JP. Female-biased sex ratio in spiders caused by parthenogenesis.
Hereditas, 1994, 120, 183-5.
5 CHARNOV EL. The Theory of Sex Allocation: monographs in Population Biology.
Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982. 355p.
6 CUELLAR O. Animal parthenogenesis. Science, 1977, 197, 837-43.
7 CUELLAR O. The evolution of parthenogenesis: a historical perspective. In:
MOENS PB. Ed. Meiosis. New York: Academic Press Inc., 1987: 43-104.
8 CUELLAR O. Biogeography of parthenogenetic animals. Biogeographica, 1994, 70,
1-13.
9 EDWARDS RL., EDWARDS EH., EDWARDS AD. Observations of Theotima
minutissimus (Araneae, Ochyroceratidae), a parthenogenetic spider. J. Arachnol.,
2003, 31, 274-7.
10 FOELIX RF. Biology of Spiders. 2.ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.
384p.
11 GHISELIN MT. The economy of nature and the evolution of sex. Berkeley:
University of California Press, 1974. 346p.
12 GLESENER RR., TILMAN D. Sexuality and the components of environmental
uncertainty: clues from geographic parthenogenesis in terrestrial animals. Am. Nat.,
1978, 112, 659-73.
13 KAHN F. Les palmiers de l’Eldorado. Paris: ORSTOM, 1997. 252p.
14 LAKE DC. Possible parthenogenesis in the Huntsman spider Isopoda insignis
(Araneae, Sparassidae). J. Arachnol., 1986, 14, 129.
15 LELOUP Y. Les villes du Minas Gerais. Mem. Inst. Haut. Etud. Am. Lat., 1970, 25,
1-301.
16 LOKKI J., SAURA A., LANKIN P., SUOMALAINEN E. Genetic polymorphism and
evolution in parthenogenetic animals. VI. Diploid and triploid Polydrosus mollis
(Coleoptera: Curculionidae). Hereditas, 1976, 82, 209-16.
W. R. Lourenço PARTHENOGENESIS IN SCORPIONS: SOME HISTORY – NEW DATA. J. Venom. Anim.
Toxins incl. Trop. Dis., 2008, 14, 1, p.
41
17 LOURENÇO WR. La biologie sexuelle et développement postembryonnaire du
scorpion Buthidae: Tityus trivittatus fasciolatus Pessôa, 1935. Rev. Nordest. Biol.,
1979, 2, 49-96.
18 LOURENÇO WR. Sur la systématique des Scorpions appartenant au complexe
Tityus stigmurus (Thorell, 1877) (Buthidae). Rev. Bras. Biol., 1981, 41, 351-62.
19 LOURENÇO WR. Contribution à la connaissance du Scorpion amazonien Tityus
metuendus Pocock, 1897 (Buthidae). Stud. Neotrop. Fauna Environ., 1983, 18, 185-
93.
20 LOURENÇO WR. Parthenogenesis in the scorpion Tityus columbianus (Thorell)
(Scorpiones: Buthidae). Bull. Br. Arachnol. Soc., 1991, 8, 274-6.
21 LOURENÇO WR. Reproduction in scorpions, with special reference to
parthenogenesis. In: TOFT S., SCHARFF N. Eds. European Arachnology 2000.
Aarhus: Aarhus University Press, 2002: 71-85.
22 LOURENÇO WR., CLOUDSLEY-THOMPSON JL. Effects of human activities on
the environment and the distribution of dangerous species of scorpions. In: BON C.,
GOYFFON M. Eds. Envenomings and their treatments. Lyon: Editions Fondation M.
Mérieux, 1996: 49-60.
23 LOURENÇO WR., CLOUDSLEY-THOMPSON JL. Discovery of a sexual
population of Tityus serrulatus, one of the morphs within the complex Tityus
stigmurus (Scorpiones, Buthidae). J. Arachnol., 1999, 27, 154-8.
24 LOURENÇO WR., CLOUDSLEY-THOMPSON JL., CUELLAR O. A review of
parthenogenesis in scorpions with a description postembryonic development in
Tityus metuendus (Scorpiones, Buthidae) from Western Amazonia. Zoologischer
Anzeiger, 2000, 239, 267-76.
25 LOURENÇO WR., CLOUDSLEY-THOMPSON JL., CUELLAR O., VON
EICKSTEDT VRD., BARRAVIERA B., KNOX MB. The evolution of scorpionism in
Brazil in recent years. J. Venom. Anim. Toxins., 1996, 2, 121-34.
26 LOURENÇO WR., CUELLAR O. Notes on the geography of parthenogenetic
scorpions. Biogeographica, 1994, 70, 19-23.
27 LOURENÇO WR., CUELLAR O. Scorpions, scorpionism, life history strategies
and parthenogenesis. J. Venom. Anim. Toxins., 1995, 1, 50-64.
28 LOURENÇO WR., CUELLAR
O. A new all-female scorpion and the first probable
case of arrhenotoky in scorpions. J. Arachnol., 1999, 27, 149-53.
W. R. Lourenço PARTHENOGENESIS IN SCORPIONS: SOME HISTORY – NEW DATA. J. Venom. Anim.
Toxins incl. Trop. Dis., 2008, 14, 1, p.
42
29 LOURENÇO WR., CUELLAR O., MENDEZ DE LA CRUZ FR. Variation of
reproductive effort between parthenogenetic and sexual populations of the scorpion
Tityus columbianus. J. Biogeogr., 1996, 23, 681-6.
30 LOURENÇO WR., KNOX MB., YOSHIZAWA MAC. L’invasion d’une communauté
a le stade initial d’une succession secondaire par une espèce parthénogénétique de
scorpion. Biogeographica, 1994, 70, 77-91.
31 LOURENÇO WR., VON EICKSTEDT VRD. Escorpiões de importância médica.
In: CARDOSO JL., SIQUEIRA-FRANÇA FO., WEN FH., SANT’ANA MÁLAQUE CM.,
HADDAD JR V. Eds. Animais Peçonhentos no Brasil. Biologia, Clínica e Terapêutica
dos Acidentes. São Paulo: Sarvier-FAPESP, 2003: 182-97.
32 LOURENÇO WR., YTHIER E., CLOUDSLEY-THOMPSON JL. Parthenogenesis
in Hottentotta caboverdensis Lourenço & Ythier, 2006 (Scorpiones, Buthidae) from
the Cape Verde islands. Bol. S.E.A., 2007, 41, 193-196.
33 MAGALHÃES O. Escorpionismo. Bras. Med., 1953, 18/25,19-23.
34 MATTHIESEN FA. Parthenogenesis in scorpions. Evolution, 1962, 16, 255-6.
35 MAURANO HR. O escorpionismo. Rio de Janeiro: Faculdade de Medicina do Rio
de Janeiro, 1915. [PhD Thesis].
36 MAYNARD SMITH J. The evolution of sex. Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 1978.
37 MAYNARD SMITH J. Evolutionary Genetics. Oxford: Oxford University Press,
1989.
38 MAYR E. Animal species and evolution. Cambridge: Belknap Mass, 1963.
39 MELLO-CAMPOS O. Os escorpiões brasileiros. Mem. Inst. Oswaldo Cruz, 1924,
17, 237-363.
40 MELLO-LEITÃO C. Revisão do gênero Tityus. Physis, 1939, 17, 57-76.
41 MULLER HJ. Some genetic aspects of sex. Am. Nat., 1932, 66, 118-38.
42 NAGELKERKE CJ., SABELIS MW. Precise sex-ratio control in the pseudo-
arrhenotokous phytoseiid mite Typhlodromus occidentalis Nesbitt. In: SCHUSTER
R., MURPHY PW. Eds. The Acari: reproduction, development and life-history
strategies. London: Chapman & Hall, 1991: 193-207.
43 NORTON RA., PALMER SC. The distribution, mechanisms and evolutionary
significance of parthenogenesis in oribatid mites. In: SCHUSTER R., MURPHY PW.
Eds. The Acari: reproduction, development and life-history strategies. London:
Chapman & Hall, 1991: 107-36.
W. R. Lourenço PARTHENOGENESIS IN SCORPIONS: SOME HISTORY – NEW DATA. J. Venom. Anim.
Toxins incl. Trop. Dis., 2008, 14, 1, p.
43
44 PALMER SC., NORTON RA. Taxonomic, geographic and seasonal distribution of
thelytokous parthenogenesis in the Desmonomata (Acari: Oribatida). Exp. Appl.
Acarol., 1991,12, 67-81.
45 PESSÔA SB. Nota sobre alguns escorpiões do gênero Tityus e Bothriurus. An.
Paulista Med. Cir., 1935, 29, 429-36.
46 SAN MARTIN P., GAMBARDELLA LA. Nueva comprobación de la
partenogenesis en Tityus serrulatus (Lutz & Mello-Campos, 1922) (Scorpionida,
Buthidae). Rev. Soc. Ent. Arg., 1966, 28, 79-84.
47 SUOMALEINEN E. Parthenogenesis in animals. Advanc. Genetics, 1950, 3, 193-
253.
48 SUOMALEINEN E. Evolution in parthenogenetic Curculionidae. Evol. Biol., 1969,
3, 261-96.
49 TABERLY G. Recherches sur la parthénogenèse thélytoque de deux espèces
d’Acariens Oribates: Trhypochthonius tectorum (Berlese) et Platynothrus peltifer
(Koch). J. Acarol., 1987, 28, 187-98.
50 TAYLOR PD., SAUER A. The selective advantage of sex-ratio homeostasis. Am.
Nat., 1980, 116, 305-10.
51 TERUEL R. Primer registro de partenogénesis en Centruroides gracilis (Latreille,
1804) (Scorpiones: Buthidae). Rev. Ibér. Aracnol., 2004, 9, 141-2.
52 TOSCANO-GADEA C. Confirmation of parthenogenesis in Tityus trivittatus
Kraepelin, 1898 (Scorpiones, Buthidae). J. Arachnol., 2005, 33, 866-9.
53 TSURUSAKI N. Parthenogenesis and geographic variation of sex ratio in two
species of Leiobunum (Arachnida, Opiliones). Zool. Sci., 1986, 3, 517-32.
54 VANDEL A. La parthénogenèse géographique: contribution à l'étude biologique et
cytologique de la parthénogenèse naturelle. Bull. Biol. France Belg., 1928, 62, 164-
281.
55 VAN VALEN L. A new evolutionary law. Evol. Theory, 1973, 1, 1-30.
56 VELLARD J. Scorpions. In: Mission scientifique au Goyaz et au Rio Araguaya.
Mém. Soc. Zool. France, 1932, 29, 539-56.
57 VON EICKSTEDT VRD. Escorpionismo por Tityus stigmurus no Nordeste do
Brasil (Scorpiones; Buthidae). Mem. Inst. Butantan, 1983, 47/48, 133-7.
58 WAAGE JK. Family planning in parasitoids: adaptive patterns of progeny and sex
allocation. In: WAAGE JK., GREATHEAD D. Eds. Insect Parasitoids. London:
Academic Press, 1986: 63-95.
W. R. Lourenço PARTHENOGENESIS IN SCORPIONS: SOME HISTORY – NEW DATA. J. Venom. Anim.
Toxins incl. Trop. Dis., 2008, 14, 1, p.
44
59 WHITE MJD. Animal Cytology and Evolution. Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 1954. 454p.
60 WHITE MJD. Animal Cytology and Evolution. New York: Cambridge University
Press, 1973. 931p.
61 WILLIAMS GC. Sex and evolution. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1975.
62 YAMAZAKI K., MAKIOKA T. Parthenogenesis through five generations in the
scorpion Liocheles australasiae (Fabricius, 1775) (Scorpiones, Ischnuridae). J.
Arachnol., 2005, 32, 852-6.
... The most frequent form of reproduction in scorpions involves the indirect transfer of male gametes via spermatophores, and occurs after an elaborate and ritualized courtship (Polis & Sissom 1990;Stockmann 2015). However, some species can also reproduce by parthenogenesis, in which females generate offspring without the genetic contribution of males (Francke 2008;Lourenço 2008). For these species, males are considered rare (Lourenço 2008(Lourenço , 2015, and parthenogenesis is assumed to be the main method of reproduction (Warburg 2011;Ayrey 2017;Seiter & Stockmann 2017). ...
... However, some species can also reproduce by parthenogenesis, in which females generate offspring without the genetic contribution of males (Francke 2008;Lourenço 2008). For these species, males are considered rare (Lourenço 2008(Lourenço , 2015, and parthenogenesis is assumed to be the main method of reproduction (Warburg 2011;Ayrey 2017;Seiter & Stockmann 2017). Consequently, behavioral studies addressing the courtship repertoire in scorpions that can reproduce by either method (i.e., sexual reproduction or parthenogenesis) are extremely rare, and this in turn leads to incorrect generalizations about the reproductive biology of these species. ...
... This is especially true for medically important species such as T. stigmurus, which is one of the most harmful scorpions in South America. For example, in this species, parthenogenetic populations are expected to be more dispersive and proliferative, in part due to density-independent demographic processes (Lourenço 2008). Hence, an understanding of the reproductive biology of such understudied species can provide basic scientific knowledge for the establishment of public health strategies aimed at mitigating recurrent problems related to scorpion envenomation (Lourenço 2015). ...
Article
Parthenogenesis and sex-ratio bias may lead to erroneous assumptions concerning the natural history of some arachnids. To help address this issue, this study provides new data on the sex ratio and geographic distribution of sexual populations of the scorpion Tityus stigmurus (Thorell, 1876). Ultraviolet light lanterns were used to detect specimens during nocturnal searches performed in both urban and non-urban environments scattered thorough northeastern Brazil. Males of T. stigmurus were reported for 10 new localities, and although we did not find males in urban environments, non-urban populations presented near symmetrical sex ratios. Such results suggest that reproductive strategies in this species may be modulated by environmental conditions. Also, the general tendency of less biased sex ratios in non-urban environments reported here is in accordance with previous studies that indicated the occurrence of geographical parthenogenesis in this species. Thereby, we propose that sexual populations of T. stigmurus are less rare than previously reported.
... If the fertility of parthenogenetic and sexually reproducing females were the same, asexual reproduction is considered to be more efficient than sexual reproduction, since the latter involves additional costs (Maynard-Smith 1978;Kawatsu 2013), such as the production of males, whose paternal investment in the offspring is often minimal (Maynard-Smith 1971). In addition, asexually reproducing animals are more efficient in the colonization of disturbed environments since reproduction may occur without the presence of a member of the opposite sex (Cuellar 1977;Lourenço 2008). However, the evolutionary consequences of parthenogenesis may involve reproductive isolation in relation to sexual forms and the emergence of lineages with low genotype diversity, which may lead to their extinction (Simon et al. 2003). ...
... In some invertebrates, sexual and asexual reproduction occur cyclically, such as in monogonont rotifers, cladoceran crustaceans, and aphids (Decaestecker et al. 2009;Loxdale 2009;Serra & Snell 2009), while in other groups, the presence of both forms of reproduction is an alternative strategy (Buřič et al. 2011). In arthropods, facultative parthenogenesis is observed in insects (Corley et al. 1999;Chang et al. 2014;Sekiné et al. 2015;Walker & Holwell 2015), crustaceans (Buřič et al. 2011) and arachnids, specifically some scorpion species (Toscano-Gadea 2005;Francke 2008;Lourenço 2008). According to criteria established by Francke (2008) for the identification of a parthenogenetic species, eleven scorpion species are currently known to reproduce asexually (Francke 2008;Ross 2010;Seiter 2012;Seiter et al. 2016;Seiter & Stockmann 2017), most through facultative parthenogenesis (Francke 2008;Seiter & Stockmann 2017). ...
... However, the species has been increasingly found in regions where its presence was not reported earlier (Lourenço et al. 1996;Lourenço & Cloudsley-Thompson 1999;Bortoluzzi et al. 2007;Mario da Rosa et al. 2015). Lourenço (2008) proposed that the wide distribution of T. serrulatus is the result of recent dispersal events, since a medically important species would be recorded as soon as it became abundant in urban areas. ...
... A higher relative prevalence of injuries caused by scorpions was observed, which can be justified by the geographical and climatic characteristics of the studied region and by the circulation of the species T. serrulatus. This is popularly known as the yellow scorpion and considered the most dangerous, in which its parthenogenesis process allows that the female scorpion generates copies of itself twice a year without the need for mating [21]. Besides, the study region has low socioeconomic conditions and climatic characteristics that vary from hot to rainy in summer and dry in winter, favoring the circulation of this species. ...
... Regarding the sociodemographic profile, the majority of scorpion sting victims identified in the present study were students, followed by farmers, domestic workers, and unemployed people, differing from the occupational reality of the subjects of other consulted studies [7,9]. In this study, stings were slightly more common in men, converging with most studies that indicated a higher prevalence for men [9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21]. ...
... Female reproductive systems can be katoicogenic (very small eggs with no yolk; development in blind outgrowths of the oviducts; no embryonic membranes) or apoikogenic (large eggs with much yolk; development takes place in the oviduct after leaving the follicle; no blind outgrowths from the oviducts; the embryo is surrounded by embryonic membranes) (Polis 1990); and they are viviparous (Francke 1982). Some scorpion species can even reproduce by means of parthenogenesis (Lourenço 2008). Key factors in the life history of arthropods include the environment, population dynamics and drivers for reproductive success, such as growth rates and development duration (see the review in Chapin 2017). ...
... The developmental periods differed from other scorpion species, in particular from members of the genus Tityus, e.g., from the subgenus Archaeotityus: Tityus columbianus (Thorell, 1876) (Lourenço 1991;Lourenço et al 1996), Tityus mattogrossensis Borelli, 1901 (Lourenço 1979b), Tityus bastosi Lourenço, 1984(Lourenço & Cloudsley-Thompson 1998, and Tityus ocelote Francke & Stockwell, 1987(Seiter 2012, and from the subgenus Tityus: Tityus confluens Borelli, 1899 and Tityus trivittatus Kraepelin, 1898(Toscano-Gadea 2004Seiter 2012;Seiter & Stockmann 2017). However, the periods are similar to those in the subgenus Atreus, which have the same range of size, e.g., Tityus neblina Lourenço, 2008(Lourenço & Cloudsley-Thompson 2010, 2011, T. metuendus (Lourenço et al. 2000a) and T. obscurus (Lourenço et al. 2000b), except they are longer than those in Tityus ythieri Lourenço, 2007(Lourenço 2007Kovařík et al. 2009); and Tityus magnimanus Pocock, 1897 (Kovařík et al. 2009;Ross 2009a,b). The overall developmental periods are comparatively long due to the species' habitat in the Central Cordillera in Colombia (cold conditions including a diapause). ...
Article
Full-text available
Observations on the entire life history of scorpion species are uncommon, and these studies primarily focus on postembryonic development. So far, little is known on how changes in temperature or humidity could affect communities of scorpions. Here, we present data on the embryonic and postembryonic development of Tityus forcipula (Gervais, 1843), a scorpion living in the Colombian Central Cordillera that was subjected to different climate regimes. For a comparative approach, one group was raised under lower conditions (23-248C) and another group was raised under higher temperatures (25-278C, meaning a 2-38C increase). Our results clearly demonstrate that T. forcipule reared under laboratory conditions is not able to thrive under constant higher temperatures. A minority of the latter group (, 10%) reached adulthood, but never reproduced. Of the 43 specimens kept under lower temperatures (with a mild diapause), 21 females and 19 males reached maturity in the 5 th instar; only one female and two males required an extra molt to mature. Tityus forcipula specimens reached maturity after 463 days of postembryonic development. The average for embryonic development was 208 days, with an average of 12 neonates per litter. Twenty-four different morphometric measurements were taken from all specimens for each exuvium of the juveniles and the adult stage. The results indicated a relationship, albeit partly poorly developed, between the sexes, in several measured structures and the instars.
... Scorpions are terrestrial arthropods, which inhabit different biomes and are distributed worldwide, except in Antarctica [1]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Few data are available in the literature describing the long-term effects of envenoming in the perinatal period. In this study, the relationship between envenoming of lactating rats and possible behavioral changes in the mother and in her offspring were investigated. Lactating Wistar rats received a single dose of T. serrulatus crude venom on postnatal days 2 (V2), 10 (V10) or 16 (V16), and had their maternal behavior evaluated. The seizure threshold was evaluated in adulthood offspring. A decrease in maternal care during envenoming was observed in V2 and V10 groups. The retrieval behavior was absent in the V2 group, and a lower seizure threshold in the adult offspring of all groups was observed. During envenoming, mothers stayed away from their offspring for a relatively long time. Maternal deprivation during the early postnatal period is one of the most potent stressors for pups and could be responsible, at least in part, for the decrease in the convulsive threshold of the offspring since stress is pointed to as a risk factor for epileptogenesis. Furthermore, the scorpionic accident generates an intense immune response, and inflammation in neonates increases the susceptibility to seizures in adulthood. Therefore, maternal envenoming during lactation can have adverse effects on offspring in adulthood.
... Parthenogenesis is a type of asexual reproduction in which genetically identical offspring is produced through unfertilised eggs and is relatively rare compared the sexual reproduction (Lynch 1984;Lourenço 2008;Ross 2010). In Arachnida, parthenogenesis is reported for Amblypygi (Armas 2005;Weygoldt 2005Weygoldt , 2007, Araneae (Camacho 1994;Edwards et al. 2003;Korenko et al. 2009), Scorpiones (Lourenço et al. 2007;Francke 2008;Souza et al. 2016), Opiliones (Burns et al. 2018), Acariformes, and Parasitiformes (Oliver 1971;Freitas et al. 2002;Domes et al. 2007;Heethoff et al. 2011;Maraun et al. 2019). ...
Article
Parthenogenesis is documented in a few species of Amblypygi, but it is unknown how widespread in the order this reproductive behaviour is, and little has been researched regarding aspects of embryonic and post-embryonic development in the group. Here, we studied the parthenogenetic capacity of an Amazonian whip spider (Charinus guto) evaluating the time of egg and embryonic development and inter-moult period. We also provide a review on embryonic and post-embryonic development in Amblypygi, compiling and analysing data from 43 species in three families. Fifty-two females and 42 juveniles of C. guto were collected in fragments of a secondary forest in Belém (Brazil); specimens were kept in captivity and observed weekly from 2018 to 2020. Nineteen specimens were collected with and 32 without egg sacs. Fourteen of the nonovigerous females developed eggs in captivity, six of them moulted (i.e. lost stored sperm from previous contacts with males) before developing an egg sac, proving to be parthenogenetic. The mean time between the first day in captivity and moult was 96 days. In both adults and juveniles, a mean of 147 days passed between first day in captivity and first moult, and 125 days for a second moult. After moulting, a mean of 113 days passed for the females to develop an egg sac; the embryonic development took a mean of 59 days. Juveniles left the mother’s abdomen after 10 days of hatching from the egg and the mean number of live free-living protonymphs was five. Other amblypygids, especially charinids, have similar embryonic development and post-embryonic growth and a detailed discussion with all known information for whip spiders is presented. We also demonstrate a positive correlation between clutch size and female size across Amblypygi, in which larger females carry more eggs and have larger offspring regardless of climate and habitat.
... This study demonstrates that these invasions can be much more frequent than expected, since most stings were not associated with work environments, and occurred in homes and in the peridomiciliary area. In the surrounding areas of Manaus, the populations of T. metuendus were found to reproduce only sexually (Lourenço, 1983), however in laboratory conditions, parthenogenesis was observed in this species (Lourenço, 2008). This reproductive strategy may have facilitated the dispersion of T. metuendus in areas highly modified by man, as also recorded for T. serrulatus (Pimenta et al., 2019). ...
Article
Full-text available
Scorpion envenomations are a major public health problem in Brazil, and most medically important cases are attributable to the Tityus genus. The objective of this study is to describe the clinical and epidemiological aspects of a series of 151 cases of confirmed scorpion stings, which were treated at the hospitals of two cities in the Western Brazilian Amazon, between June 2014 and December 2019. This study shows that the genus Tityus was the most prevalent. Tityus (Atreus) metuendus (Pocock, 1897) was responsible for the greatest number of cases (68.2%), followed by Tityus (Archaeotityus) silvestris (Pocock, 1897) (14.6%). Most of the envenomations involved males (53.6%), and analysis showed a slight predominance in the group from 40 to 49 years (22.5%). The most affected body regions were feet (49.0%) and hands (31.8%). The time elapsed between the accident and medical care was ≤6 h in 92.1% of cases. Regarding clinical severity, classes I (80.8%) and II (15.9%) predominated. However , there were five (3.3%) class III cases; four for T. metuendus and one for T. silvestris. The most frequent local and systemic manifestations were, respectively, pain (84.1%), paresthesia (34.4%) and mild edema (25.8%), and nausea (9.3%) and myoclonia (8.6%). The clinical manifestations were similar among the patients stung by the different species of scorpions. There were no differences between the manifestations of envenomation caused by T. metuendus, T. silvestris and T. raquelae. For victims of T. apiacas, a higher frequency of piloerection and my-oclonia was observed, and was described by the affected patients as a 'sensation of receiving an electric shock' throughout the body. No deaths were registered. The species of greatest epidemiological importance in Manaus is T. metuendus, a species that leads to clinical pictures that do not differ substantially from those observed in other Brazilian regions. T. apiacas causes neurological manifestations that differed from other Tityus species. Our findings suggest that the available antivenoms have little effectiveness when used in the treatment of envenomations by some Amazonian scorpions.
Article
Objective: To identify areas that present a higher risk of exposure to accidents with scorpions in Brazil. Methods: We used techniques of spatial prioritization to determine the most vulnerable localities to envenomation by four scorpion species. Our prioritization integrated ecological niche models with health investment, antivenin availability, access to health care facilities, and metrics of human impact data. Results: The ecological niche models indicated that three scorpion species (Tityus bahiensis, Tityus serrulatus, and Tityus stigmurus) are more associated with human population density, while T. obscurus demonstrated a strong association with temperature variations during the year. Spatial prioritization indicated that the areas with higher risk exposure to accidents with scorpions are in northern and northeastern Brazil. Alternatively, more isolated but densely populated areas in the southeastern and central regions also emerged as a priority. Conclusion: Mapping areas where humans are more likely to interact with scorpions can assist in the design of efficient public health policies.
Article
Several research groups have studied the components produced by the venom gland of the scorpion Tityus serrulatus, which has one of the most lethal venoms in the world. Various methodologies have been employed to clarify the complex mechanisms of action of these components, especially neurotoxins and enzymes. Transcriptomes and proteomes have provided important information for pharmacological, biochemical, and immunological research. Next-generation sequencing (NGS) has allowed the description of new transcripts and completion of partial sequence descriptions for peptides, especially those with low expression levels. In the present work, after NGS sequencing, we searched for new putative venom components. We present a total of nine new transcripts with neurotoxic potential (Ts33–41) and describe the sequences of one hyaluronidase (TsHyal_4); three enzymes involved in amidation (peptidyl-glycine alpha-amidating monooxygenase A, peptidyl-alpha-hydroxyglycine alpha-amidating lyase, and peptidylglycine alpha-hydroxylating monooxygenase), which increases the lethal potential of neurotoxins; and also the enzyme Ts_Chitinase1, which may be involved in the venom's digestive action. In addition, we determined the level of transcription of five groups: toxins, metalloproteases, hyaluronidases, chitinases and amidation enzymes, including new components found in this study. Toxins are the predominant group with an expression level of 91.945%, followed by metalloproteases with only 7.790% and other groups representing 0.265%.
Article
Scorpionism is a serious public health problem in various regions of the world. In Brazil, a high number of accidents by scorpions have been reported. From 2014 to 2018, about 547,000 cases were recorded, resulting in 466 deaths. The scorpion Tityus stigmurus is the predominant species in the northeast of Brazil, being responsible for most scorpionism cases in this region. With the aid of the transcriptomic approach of the venom gland of this species, components as neurotoxins, antimicrobials, metal chelating peptides and hypotensins, have been identified and characterized in silico, showing different biologic activity in vitro. In addition, the neuronal, pancreatic, renal, and enzymatic effects have been demonstrated for the crude T. stigmurus venom. Therefore, the T. stigmurus scorpion venom constitutes a rich arsenal of bioactive molecules with high potential for therapeutic and biotechnological application.
Article
Full-text available
Parthenogenesis is rare in chelicerates with the exception of mites. In scorpions this form of asexual reproduction has been observed in some species of the families Buthidae and Liochelidae. In the present paper, parthenogenesis is reported in a species of scorpion inhabiting the Cape Verde islands and recently described as Hottentotta caboverdensis. The postem-bryonic development of H. caboverdensis is also described. The Cape Verde population of H. caboverdensis seems to be an obligate thelytokous (all-female broods) parthenospecies. Partenogénesis en los Hottentotta caboverdensis Lourenço & Ythier, 2006 (Scorpiones, Buthidae) de las islas de Cabo Verde Resumen: La partenogénesis es rara en los quelicerados, con excepción de los ácaros. En los escorpiones esta forma de re-producción asexual se ha observado en algunas especies de las familias Buthidae y Liochelidae. En el presente trabajo se se-ñala la existencia de partenogénesis en una especie de escorpión que habita en las islas de Cabo Verde y que se ha descrito recientemente como Hottentotta caboverdensis. Se describe igualmente el desarrollo postembrionario de H. caboverdensis. La población de Cabo Verde de H. caboverdensis parece ser una partenoespecie, de telitoquia obligada (con sólo hembras).
Article
A new parthenogenetic species of scorpion, Ananteris coineaui Lourenco, is reported from French Guyana. Parthenogenesis is based on the production of an all-female brood (thelytoky) by a wild virgin female. Conversely, the first probable case of male parthenogenesis (arrehnotoky) in scorpions is reported based on the production of two successive all-male broods by a wild caught virgin female of Tityus metuendus Pocock from Peru. Both species were found in isolated palm trees within the rain forest, conforming with the insular theory of parthenogenesis.