The Consequences of Genetic Variation in Sex Peptide Expression Levels for Egg Laying and Retention in Females

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The accessory gland proteins (Acps) that male Drosophila melanogaster produce and transfer to females during copulation are key to male and female fitness. One Acp, the sex peptide (SP), is largely responsible for a dramatic increase in female egg laying and decrease in female receptivity after copulation. While genetic variation in male SP expression levels correlate with refractory period duration in females, it is unknown whether male SP expression influences female egg laying or if any effect of SP is mediated by SP retention in the female reproductive tract. Here we measured the amount of SP retained in the female reproductive tract after mating and female egg laying after copulating with virgin males. We found no correlation between male SP expression levels and egg laying, or the amount of SP in the female reproductive tract after mating. Additionally, the amount of SP retained in the female did not influence egg laying. These finding suggests that additional factors, such as variation in other Acps, are important for the retention of SP in females and its quantitative effects on egg laying. It also shows that egg laying and refractory period response to SP is at least partially uncoupled. © 2012 Macmillan Publishers Limited All rights reserved.

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