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 journalArticle

54 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

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
Volume52
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2006

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