Vicilin-derived peptides are transferred from males to females as seminal nuptial gift in the seed-feeding beetle Callosobruchus maculatus

Daniel Alexandre, Ricardo T. Linhares, Bruna Queiroz, Luisa Fontoura, Adriana F. Uchôa, Richard I. Samuels, Maria Ligia R. Macedo, Cezar S. Bezerra, Eliana M. Oliveira, Diogo R. Demartini, Célia R. Carlini, Carlos P. Silva*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


The fate of vicilins ingested by Callosobruchus maculatus and the physiological importance of these proteins in larvae and adults have been recently investigated. Vicilins have been demonstrated to be absorbed through the midgut epithelium, circulate in their trimeric form in the haemolymph and are deposited in the fat body. In fat body cells of both sexes, vicilins are partially hydrolyzed and the fragments are eventually deposited in the eggs. Tracking the fate of FITC-labelled vicilins in adult males revealed that the labelled vicilin fragments were also detected in oöcytes and eggs, when the males copulated with non-labelled females. Based on the results presented here, we propose that following absorption, vicilins accumulate in the fat body, where they are partially degraded. These peptides are retained throughout the development of the males and are eventually sequestered by the gonads and passed to the female gonads during copulation. It is possible that accumulation in the eggs is a defensive strategy against pathogen attack, as these peptides are known to have antimicrobial activity. The contribution of vicilin-derived peptides from seminal fluids may be an investment that helps to increase the offspring survival. This study provides additional insights into the possible contributions of males to female fecundity following copulation in C. maculatus.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)801-808
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Insect Physiology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • protein absorption
  • fat body
  • antimicrobial peptides
  • vigna unguiculata
  • nuptial gift


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