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 First line of defence against influenza further decoded
21.02.2018 | Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung

nachricht Helping in spite of risk: Ants perform risk-averse sanitary care of infectious nest mates
21.02.2018 | Institute of Science and Technology Austria

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helping in spite of risk: Ants perform risk-averse sanitary care of infectious nest mates

21.02.2018 | Life Sciences

Fraunhofer ISE Supports Market Development of Solar Thermal Power Plants in the MENA Region

21.02.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

A variety of designs for OLED lighting in one easy kit

21.02.2018 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>