Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

‘Molecular Ballets’ and Microscopic Battle of the Sexes Boost Mating Success

22.02.2011
For insects, as for humans, mating can involve complicated interactions between males and females, with each partner engaging in rituals or behaviors that influence the other.

Those behaviors often end once the mating is complete. But male and female insects continue to influence each other on molecular, cellular and physiological levels – even after the partners go their separate ways, according to research by Mariana Wolfner, Cornell professor of molecular biology and genetics.

Wolfner spoke on “Seminal influences: How Proteins Transferred by Mating Males Affect Reproduction and Behavior of Female Fruit Flies,” at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science Feb. 21 in Washington, D.C.

Molecules transferred from male to female fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) during mating cause a variety of changes in the female long after the male has left the scene, Wolfner said – in some cases working in a kind of cooperative molecular ballet; and in other ways boosting the male’s competitive advantage against rivals.

Understanding each of those interactions better could lead to new ways of curtailing reproduction in harmful insects, or boosting it in beneficial ones, she said. The research could also help answer key questions about chemical communication and evolution across species.

After a male and female fruit fly mate, the female undergoes a series of changes that not only improve her chances of reproductive success, but also boost the male’s chances of out-propagating his potential competitors. Among these changes: mated females have increased appetites and produce more antimicrobial peptides that kill microbial and fungal invaders; their reproductive tracts open to allow entry and storage of sperm; and they show more resistance to mating attempts by other males.

To pinpoint the causes, Wolfner and colleagues removed individual elements in the mating process and tested the females’ reactions. They first narrowed the cause down to seminal fluid proteins manufactured in the male flies’ accessory gland; then removed individual proteins one by one to match specific molecules and responses.

The intermolecular dialogue is vital for reproduction in general, but it also serves functions that benefit the male and female individually, sometimes leading to a microscopic battle between the sexes, Wolfner said. A mated female that resists mating with other males is more likely to propagate her first partner’s genes, for example. If that partner is less fit, she may lose out by having fewer or poorer quality offspring overall. A female could also lose in the long run if the interaction causes her to produce more eggs, increasing progeny for the male but potentially shortening the female’s lifespan.

Ultimately, Wolfner said, knowledge gained by studying Drosophila could help researchers find ways to control insects that transmit devastating diseases, including dengue fever, West Nile encephalitis or malaria.

“One way to address the spread of these diseases is to interfere the ability of their insect vectors to reproduce. By understanding the molecules that enhance or impede reproduction in Drosophila fruit flies, we gain information that can help to do that,” she said.

John Carberry
Desk: (607) 255-5353
Cell: (607) 227-0767
jjc338@cornell.edu
Blaine Friedlander
(607) 254-8093
bpf2@cornell.edu

John Carberry | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.cornell.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Fine organic particles in the atmosphere are more often solid glass beads than liquid oil droplets
21.04.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Chemie

nachricht Study overturns seminal research about the developing nervous system
21.04.2017 | University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

Im Focus: Quantum-physical Model System

Computer-assisted methods aid Heidelberg physicists in reproducing experiment with ultracold atoms

Two researchers at Heidelberg University have developed a model system that enables a better understanding of the processes in a quantum-physical experiment...

Im Focus: Glacier bacteria’s contribution to carbon cycling

Glaciers might seem rather inhospitable environments. However, they are home to a diverse and vibrant microbial community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they play a bigger role in the carbon cycle than previously thought.

A new study, now published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows how microbial communities in melting glaciers contribute to the Earth’s carbon cycle, a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New quantum liquid crystals may play role in future of computers

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A promising target for kidney fibrosis

21.04.2017 | Health and Medicine

Light rays from a supernova bent by the curvature of space-time around a galaxy

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>