Postmating, prezygotic phenotypes, especially those that underlie reproductive isolation between closely related species, have been a central focus of evolutionary biologists over the past two decades. Such phenotypes are thought to evolve rapidly and be nearly ubiquitous among sexually reproducing eukaryotes where females mate with multiple partners. Because these phenotypes represent interplay between the male ejaculate and female reproductive tract, they are fertile ground for reproductive senescence - as ejaculate composition and female physiology typically change over an individual's life span. Although these phenotypes and their resulting dynamics are important, we have little understanding of the proteins that mediate these phenotypes, particularly for species groups where postmating, prezygotic traits are the primary mechanism of reproductive isolation. Here, we utilize proteomics, RNAi, mating experiments, and the Allonemobius socius complex of crickets, whose members are primarily isolated from one another by postmating, prezygotic phenotypes (including the ability of a male to induce a female to lay eggs), to demonstrate that one of the most abundant ejaculate proteins (a male accessory gland-biased protein similar to a trypsin-like serine protease) decreases in abundance over a male's reproductive lifetime and mediates the induction of egg-laying in females. These findings represent one of the first studies to identify a protein that plays a role in mediating both a postmating, prezygotic isolation pathway and reproductive senescence.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)