Delayed male maturity is a cost of producing large sperm in Drosophila

Scott Pitnick, Therese A. Markow, Greg S. Spicer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

255 Scopus citations


Among fruit-fly species of the genus Drosophila there is remarkable variation in sperm length, with some species producing gigantic sperm (e.g., > 10 times total male body length). These flies are also unusual in that males of some species exhibit a prolonged adult nonreproductive phase. We document sperm length, body size, and sex-specific ages of reproductive maturity for 42 species of Drosophila and, after controlling for phylogeny, test hypotheses to explain the variation in rates of sexual maturation. Results suggest that delayed male maturity is a cost of producing long sperm. A possible physiological mechanism to explain the observed relationship is discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10614-10618
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number23
StatePublished - Nov 7 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • age at maturity
  • body size
  • life history
  • testis size

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


Dive into the research topics of 'Delayed male maturity is a cost of producing large sperm in Drosophila'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this