Meeting Abstract

S4-12  Sunday, Jan. 5 15:00 - 15:30  Where now? Future directions in reproductive biology framed by the female perspective ORR, TJ*; HAYSSEN, V; New Mexico State University, Las Cruces; Smith College, Northampton

Female reproduction is key for the success of sexually reproducing species. However, not only have females been understudied in many regards, but data have commonly been interpreted in the context of now-outdated social mores. As a summary to our symposium, we highlight gaps in our knowledge about female reproductive biology and provide a jumping-off point for discussing future research areas with a focus on a process: sperm storage, a morphological trait: genital evolution and life history theory: reproductive timing. We also discuss the promise of emerging methods such as micro-CT scanning, high-throughput sequencing, proteomics, CRISPR-Cas9 and viral vector technology, and big-data analyses for yielding insights into previously cryptic processes and features. For example, in mice DNA sequencing via ChIP-Seq is already unveiling how epigenetic interactions lead to sex differences in brain development- and holds promise for future work. Similarly, we discuss how new areas such as microbiome research are debunking dogmas such as the notion of the ‘sterile womb.’ In light of NSF’s Rules of Life Idea projects we highlight how female reproductive biology is well suited to studies that are ‘Predicting Rules of Life.’ Studies of female reproductive biology will enable scholars to: 1) traverse levels of biological organization from the ovum, to reproductive proteins, vaginal and uterine morphologies, physiology, mating behaviors, whole-organism performance, ecology, and population structure; 2) discover generalizable rules such as the nature of trade-offs females navigate to reproduce when both sufficient energy and mates are available; and 3) predict the impacts of changes in biological systems such as in the reliability of changing environmental cues used to time reproduction.