Seminal fluid protein divergence among populations exhibiting postmating prezygotic reproductive isolation

Martin D. Garlovsky, Caroline Evans, Mathew A. Rosenow, Timothy L. Karr, Rhonda R. Snook

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Despite holding a central role in fertilization, reproductive traits often show elevated rates of evolution and diversification. The rapid evolution of seminal fluid proteins (Sfps) within populations is predicted to cause mis-signalling between the male ejaculate and the female during and after mating resulting in postmating prezygotic (PMPZ) isolation between populations. Crosses between Drosophila montana populations show PMPZ isolation in the form of reduced fertilization success in both noncompetitive and competitive contexts. Here we test whether male ejaculate proteins produced in the accessory glands or ejaculatory bulb differ between populations using liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry. We find more than 150 differentially abundant proteins between populations that may contribute to PMPZ isolation, including a number of proteases, peptidases and several orthologues of Drosophila melanogaster Sfps known to mediate fertilization success. Males from the population that elicit the stronger PMPZ isolation after mating with foreign females typically produced greater quantities of Sfps. The accessory glands and ejaculatory bulb show enrichment for different gene ontology (GO) terms and the ejaculatory bulb contributes more differentially abundant proteins. Proteins with a predicted secretory signal evolve faster than nonsecretory proteins. Finally, we take advantage of quantitative proteomics data for three Drosophila species to determine shared and unique GO enrichments of Sfps between taxa and which potentially mediate PMPZ isolation. Our study provides the first high-throughput quantitative proteomic evidence showing divergence of reproductive proteins between populations that exhibit PMPZ isolation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4428-4441
Number of pages14
JournalMolecular ecology
Issue number22
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020


  • Drosophila
  • accessory glands
  • ejaculate
  • postcopulatory sexual selection
  • postmating prezygotic isolation
  • proteomics
  • reproductive isolation
  • seminal fluid proteins
  • speciation
  • tandem mass-spectrometry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics


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