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Proc Biol Sci. 2018 Sep 12;285(1886). pii: 20181563. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2018.1563.

Divergence in sex peptide-mediated female post-mating responses in Drosophila melanogaster.

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Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity, University of Muenster, Muenster 48149, Germany
Muenster Graduate School of Evolution, University of Muenster, Muenster 48149, Germany.
Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity, University of Muenster, Muenster 48149, Germany.


Transfer and receipt of seminal fluid proteins crucially affect reproductive processes in animals. Evolution in these male ejaculatory proteins is explained with post-mating sexual selection, but we lack a good understanding of the evolution of female post-mating responses (PMRs) to these proteins. Some of these proteins are expected to mediate sexually antagonistic coevolution generating the expectation that females evolve resistance. One candidate in Drosophila melanogaster is the sex peptide (SP) which confers cost of mating in females. In this paper, we compared female SP-induced PMRs across three D. melanogaster wild-type populations after mating with SP-lacking versus control males including fitness measures. Surprisingly, we did not find any evidence for SP-mediated fitness costs in any of the populations. However, female lifetime reproductive success and lifespan were differently affected by SP receipt indicating that female PMRs diverged among populations. Injection of synthetic SP into virgin females further supported these findings and suggests that females from different populations require different amounts of SP to effectively initiate PMRs. Molecular analyses of the SP receptor suggest that genetic differences might explain the observed phenotypical divergence. We discuss the evolutionary processes that might have caused this divergence in female PMRs.


cost of mating; post-mating response; sex peptide; sexual conflict; sexually antagonistic coevolution

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