A mating plug protein reduces early female remating in Drosophila melanogaster
Mating plugs are formed within the female reproductive tract during mating from male ejaculate constituents or even from male genitalia themselves. Across species, mating plugs have roles in sperm storage and the prevention of female remating. In the fruitfly Drosophila melanogaster, accessory gland proteins such as the sex peptide are known to reduce female remating, however this effect can take some time to establish, hence other ejaculate components must also be involved. We hypothesised a role for the PEBII mating plug protein in the prevention of early female remating. Using RNA interference we produced PEBII knockdown males. We found that these males were significantly less able to prevent female remating in the 4h following mating. The mating plugs produced by PEBII knockdown males also showed lower levels of autofluorescence in the first 10min after the start of mating, suggesting they differed in composition to those of control males. Reduced levels of PEBII had no effect, however, on fecundity, progeny production or egg-adult viability in the first 24 after mating, suggesting there were no short-term effects of PEB II on sperm transfer, storage or use. Our results show that PEBII has a subtle but significant role in the prevention of early female remating.
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