Meeting Abstract

S4-5  Sunday, Jan. 5 10:00 - 10:30  The female side of the male x female interactions that modulate sperm competition and reproduction WOLFNER, MF; Cornell University

Reproductive interactions between males and females integrate molecules, cells, behaviors, and physiology from both partners. In sperm competition, attention has been paid to the evolution of male features to improve their success, such as faster sperm, more sperm, and composition of seminal plasma. Although the female is not ‘passive’ in the outcome of sperm competition, the nature of her genes and molecules that regulate sperm outcome is unknown. By a GWAS based on variation in Drosophila female contributions to sperm competition outcomes, we (Chow et al., 2013 Genetics) identified SNPs whose presence in the female genome modulated the outcomes of sperm competition. Recently, we (Chen, Delbare, White et al., 2019 Genetics) tested directly for the action of genes defined near those SNPs in sperm competition outcome. Eight genes showed such effects, and five of these are neurally-expressed. I will describe these results, and recent data from D. Chen that show that at least one of these neural classes participates in modulating sperm competition outcomes. Another phenomenon involving female-male cross-talk concerns how seminal proteins interact with females’ physiology in Drosophila and mosquitoes; examples will be presented. These interactions are often discussed in terms of the male ‘manipulating’ the female. I will suggest that in some cases one could consider that the female is, instead, ‘using’ the male to activate certain of her physiological pathways, when it is beneficial to her that they be activated. [Sperm-competition work is in collaboration with A. Clark, mosquito work is in collaboration with L. Harrington; all studies described were funded by NIH.]