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Nat Commun. 2016 Aug 3;7:12322. doi: 10.1038/ncomms12322.

Drosophila melanogaster females restore their attractiveness after mating by removing male anti-aphrodisiac pheromones.

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Groningen Institute for Evolutionary Life Sciences, University of Groningen, PO Box 11103, Groningen 9700 CC, The Netherlands.


Males from many species ensure paternity by preventing their mates from copulating with other males. One mate-guarding strategy involves marking females with anti-aphrodisiac pheromones (AAPs), which reduces the females' attractiveness and dissuades other males from courting. Since females benefit from polyandry, sexual conflict theory predicts that females should develop mechanisms to counteract AAPs to achieve additional copulations, but no such mechanisms have been documented. Here we show that during copulation Drosophila melanogaster males transfer two AAPs: cis-Vaccenyl Acetate (cVA) to the females' reproductive tract, and 7-Tricosene (7-T) to the females' cuticle. A few hours after copulation, females actively eject cVA from their reproductive tract, which results in increased attractiveness and re-mating. Although 7-T remains on those females, we show that it is the combination of the two chemicals that reduces attractiveness. To our knowledge, female AAP ejection provides the first example of a female mechanism that counter-acts chemical mate-guarding.

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