Satyrization in Drosophila fruitflies

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The satyr of Greek mythology was half-man, half-goat, with an animal persona signifying immoderate sexual appetites. In biology, satyrization is the disruption of reproduction in matings between closely related species. Interestingly, its effects are often reciprocally asymmetric, manifesting more strongly in one direction of heterospecific mating than the other. Heterospecific matings are well known to result in female fitness costs due to the production of sterile or inviable hybrid offspring and can also occur due to reduced female sexual receptivity, lowering the likelihood of any subsequent conspecific matings. Here we investigated the costs and mechanisms of satyrization in the Drosophila melanogaster species subgroup of fruitflies. The results showed that D. simulans females experienced higher fitness costs from a loss of remating opportunities due to significantly reduced post-mating sexual receptivity than did D. melanogaster females, as a result of reciprocal heterospecific matings. Reciprocal tests of the effects of male reproductive accessory gland protein (Acp) injections on female receptivity in pairwise comparisons between D. melanogaster and five other species within the melanogaster species subgroup revealed significant post-mating receptivity asymmetries. This was due to variation in the effects of heterospecific Acps within species with which D. melanogaster can mate, and significant but nonasymmetric Acp effects in species with which it cannot. We conclude that asymmetric satyrization due to post-mating effects of Acps may be common among diverging and hybridising species. The findings are of interest in understanding the evolution of reproductive isolation and species divergence.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-330
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Evolutionary Biology
Issue number2
Early online date6 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


    Research areas

  • Aedes, Drosophila, hybrid mating, satyrization, seminal fluid proteins, speciation

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