Remating inhibition in female Queensland fruit flies: Effects and correlates of sperm storage

Aaron M T Harmer, Preethi Radhakrishnan, Phillip W. Taylor*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    65 Citations (Scopus)


    Reproductive success of male insects commonly hinges both on their ability to secure copulations with many mates and also on their ability to inseminate and inhibit subsequent sexual receptivity of their mates to rival males. We here present the first investigation of sperm storage in Queensland fruit flies (Tephritidae: Bactrocera tryoni; a.k.a. 'Q-flies') and address the question of whether remating inhibition in females is directly influenced by or correlated with number of sperm stored from their first mates. We used irradiation to disrupt spermatogenesis and thereby experimentally reduce the number of sperm stored by some male's mates while leaving other aspects of male sexual performance (mating probability, latency until copulating, copula duration) unaffected. Females that mated with irradiated rather than normal males were less likely to store any sperm at all (50% vs. 89%) and, if some sperm were stored, the number was greatly reduced (median 11 vs. 120). Despite the considerable differences in sperm storage, females mated by normal males and irradiated males were similarly likely to remate at the next opportunity, indicating (1) number of sperm stored does not directly drive female remating inhibition and (2) factors actually responsible for remating inhibition are similarly expressed in normal and irradiated males. While overall levels of remating were similar for mates of normal and irradiated males, factors responsible for female remating inhibition were positively associated with presence and number of sperm stored by mates of normal but not irradiated males. We suggest seminal fluids as the most likely factor responsible for remating inhibition in female Q-flies, as these are likely to be transported in proportion to number of sperm in normal males, be uninfluenced by irradiation, and be transported without systematic relation to sperm number in irradiated males.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)179-186
    Number of pages8
    JournalJournal of Insect Physiology
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2006


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