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Proc Biol Sci. Jun 7, 2000; 267(1448): 1097–1105.
PMCID: PMC1690647

The role of male accessory gland protein Acp36DE in sperm competition in Drosophila melanogaster.


A crucial factor determining sperm fertilization success in multiply mated Drosophila melanogaster females is the efficiency with which sperm are stored. This process is modulated by the accessory gland protein Acp36DE. In this study, we show that the effect of Acp36DE on sperm storage itself alters the outcome of sperm competition. As second-mating males, Acp36DE1 (null) males had significantly lower P2-values than Acp36DE2 (truncation) or Acp36DE+ (control) males, as might be expected as the null males' sperm are poorly stored. We used spermless males, which are null for Acp36DE, to show that, in the absence of sperm co-transfer, Acp36DE itself could not displace first-male sperm. The results therefore suggest that males null for Acp36DE suffer in sperm displacement because fewer sperm are stored or retained, not because Acp36DE itself displaces sperm. Acp36DE1 (null) males also gained significantly fewer fertilizations than controls when they were the first males to mate. Using spermless males, we also showed that significantly more second-male offspring were produced following the transfer of Acp36DE by spermless first-mating males. This implies that the transfer of Acp36DE itself by the first male facilitated the storage or use of the second male's sperm and that co-transfer with sperm is not necessary for Acp36DE effects on second-male sperm storage. Acp36DE may persist in the reproductive tract and aid the storage of any sperm including those of later-mating males or prime the female for future efficient sperm storage. Our results indicate that mutations in genes that affect sperm storage can drastically affect the outcome of sperm competition.

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Selected References

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