Quantitative proteomics reveals rapid divergence in the postmating response of female reproductive tracts among sibling species

Erin L. McCullough, Caitlin E. McDonough, Scott Pitnick, Steve Dorus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Fertility depends, in part, on interactions between male and female reproductive proteins inside the female reproductive tract (FRT) that mediate postmating changes in female behaviour, morphology, and physiology. Coevolution between interacting proteins within species may drive reproductive incompatibilities between species, yet the mechanisms underlying postmating-prezygotic (PMPZ) isolating barriers remain poorly resolved. Here, we used quantitative proteomics in sibling Drosophila species to investigate the molecular composition of the FRT environment and its role in mediating species-specific postmating responses. We found that (i) FRT proteomes in D. simulans and D. mauritiana virgin females express unique combinations of secreted proteins and are enriched for distinct functional categories, (ii) mating induces substantial changes to the FRT proteome in D. mauritiana but not in D. simulans, and (iii) the D. simulans FRT proteome exhibits limited postmating changes irrespective of whether females mate with conspecific or heterospecific males, suggesting an active female role in mediating reproductive interactions. Comparisons with similar data in the closely related outgroup species D. melanogaster suggest that divergence is concentrated on the D. simulans lineage. Our study suggests that divergence in the FRT extracellular environment and postmating response contribute to previously described patterns of PMPZ isolation and the maintenance of species boundaries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20201030
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1929
StatePublished - Jun 24 2020


  • Drosophila
  • fertility
  • reproductive isolation
  • sexual selection
  • speciation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Environmental Science
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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