The evolution of conspecific sperm precedence in Drosophila

Mol Ecol. 2003 May;12(5):1179-84. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-294x.2003.01742.x.


Conspecific sperm precedence takes place when females inseminated by both conspecific and heterospecific sperm preferentially produce conspecific rather than hybrid offspring. Although many studies have documented conspecific sperm precedence, most have only identified it between taxa that are already considered to be good species. Here, we test for sperm precedence between two Drosophila pseudoobscura subspecies and between two Drosophila melanogaster races to evaluate how early in evolutionary divergence sperm precedence evolves. We found evidence of weak conspecific sperm precedence between the Drosophila subspecies but none between the Drosophila races. These pairs of taxa are already separated by mating discrimination and/or hybrid sterility, so our observation suggests that conspecific sperm precedence does not always evolve before other barriers to gene exchange.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Crosses, Genetic
  • Drosophila / physiology*
  • Female
  • Male
  • Reproduction / physiology
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Species Specificity
  • Spermatozoa / physiology*