Functional significance of seminal receptacle length in Drosophila melanogaster

G. T. Miller, S. Pitnick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Despite its central role in post-copulatory sexual selection, the female reproductive tract is poorly understood. Here we provide the first experimental study of the adaptive significance of variation in female sperm-storage organ morphology. Using populations of Drosophila melanogaster artificially selected for longer or shorter seminal receptacles, we identify relationships between the length of this primary sperm-storage organ and the number of sperm stored, pattern of progeny production, rate of egg fertilization, remating interval, and pattern of sperm precedence. Costs and benefits of relatively short or long organs were identified. Benefits of longer receptacles include increased sperm-storage capacity and thus progeny production from a single insemination. Results suggest that longer receptacles have not naturally evolved because of developmental time costs and a correlated reduction in longevity of mated females. This latter cost may be a consequence of sexual conflict mediated by ejaculate toxicity. Receptacle length did not alter the pattern of sperm precedence, which is consistent with data on the co-evolution of sperm and female receptacle length, and a pattern of differential male fertilization success being principally determined by the interaction between these male and female traits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)114-126
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Evolutionary Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2003


  • Artificial selection
  • Development time
  • Longevity
  • Remating
  • Sexual conflict
  • Sexual selection
  • Sperm competition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


Dive into the research topics of 'Functional significance of seminal receptacle length in Drosophila melanogaster'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this