Genital stimulation opens door for cryptic female choice in tsetse flies

May 14, 2009

By snipping off parts of male genitalia and reducing genital sensation in both male and female tsetse flies, researchers induced a suite of changes in female reproduction, including reduced ovulation, reduced sperm storage and increased re-mating attempts by the females. "To the best of our knowledge, this was the first study to look at female choice following experimental manipulation of both male and female genitalia," said William Eberhard, staff scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and professor of biology at the University of Costa Rica.

Cryptic female choice--the ability of females to control which sperm reaches their eggs during and after the mating process--leads to rapid evolutionary changes in genital structure and is probably influenced by the number of times a female mates with different males.

"The tsetse fly Kama Sutra is long and elaborate," said Eberhard, who described the 30-minute ritual during which the male rubs the underside of the female's abdomen with his hind legs, sings to her by buzzing his wings, rubs her eyes with his front legs, and so on.

With Daniel Briceño, professor of biology at the University of Costa Rica, Eberhard modified male genital structures by cutting off a tooth that is typical of this species of tsetse fly and by smoothing a bristly surface by applying a coat of nail polish. In addition, they modified the sensations perceived by the female from these structures by altering the female sense organs on the portions of her body that these male structures contact during copulation. "We were surprised by the number of female processes that were influenced by modifying the stimuli received by the female from the male's genitalia," said Eberhard.
-end-
STRI, headquartered in Panama City, Panama, is a unit of the Smithsonian Institution. The institute furthers the understanding of tropical nature and its importance to human welfare, trains students to conduct research in the tropics and promotes conservation by increasing public awareness of the beauty and importance of tropical ecosystems. Web site: www.stri.org.

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

Related Biology Articles from Brightsurf:

Experimental Biology press materials available now
Though the Experimental Biology (EB) 2020 meeting was canceled in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, EB research abstracts are being published in the April 2020 issue of The FASEB Journal.

Structural biology: Special delivery
Bulky globular proteins require specialized transport systems for insertion into membranes.

Cell biology: All in a flash!
Scientists of Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich have developed a tool to eliminate essential proteins from cells with a flash of light.

A biology boost
Assistance during the first years of a biology major leads to higher retention of first-generation students.

Cell biology: Compartments and complexity
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich biologists have taken a closer look at the subcellular distribution of proteins and metabolic intermediates in a model plant.

Cell biology: The complexity of division by two
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich researchers have identified a novel protein that plays a crucial role in the formation of the mitotic spindle, which is essential for correct segregation of a full set of chromosomes to each daughter cell during cell division.

Cell biology: Dynamics of microtubules
Filamentous polymers called microtubules play vital roles in chromosome segregation and molecular transport.

The biology of color
Scientists are on a threshold of a new era of color science with regard to animals, according to a comprehensive review of the field by a multidisciplinary team of researchers led by professor Tim Caro at UC Davis.

Kinky biology
How and why proteins fold is a problem that has implications for protein design and therapeutics.

A new tool to decipher evolutionary biology
A new bioinformatics tool to compare genome data has been developed by teams from the Max F.

Read More: Biology News and Biology Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.