Assessing differences in sperm competitive ability in Drosophila

Shu Dan Yeh, Carolus Chan, José M. Ranz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Competition among conspecific males for fertilizing the ova is one of the mechanisms of sexual selection, i.e. selection that operates on maximizing the number of successful mating events rather than on maximizing survival and viability. Sperm competition represents the competition between males after copulating with the same female, in which their sperm are coincidental in time and space. This phenomenon has been reported in multiple species of plants and animals. For example, wild-caught D. melanogaster females usually contain sperm from 2-3 males. The sperm are stored in specialized organs with limited storage capacity, which might lead to the direct competition of the sperm from different males. Comparing sperm competitive ability of different males of interest (experimental male types) has been performed through controlled double-mating experiments in the laboratory. Briefly, a single female is exposed to two different males consecutively, one experimental male and one cross-mating reference male. The same mating scheme is then followed using other experimental male types thus facilitating the indirect comparison of the competitive ability of their sperm through a common reference. The fraction of individuals fathered by the experimental and reference males is identified using markers, which allows one to estimate sperm competitive ability using simple mathematical expressions. In addition, sperm competitive ability can be estimated in two different scenarios depending on whether the experimental male is second or first to mate (offense and defense assay, respectively), which is assumed to be reflective of different competence attributes. Here, we describe an approach that helps to interrogate the role of different genetic factors that putatively underlie the phenomenon of sperm competitive ability in D. melanogaster.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e50547
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number78
DOIs
StatePublished - 2013

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