Cholinergic control of synchronized seminal emissions in Drosophila

Curr Biol. 2004 Apr 20;14(8):704-10. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2004.04.003.


In many animal species, copulation involves the coordinated release of both sperm and seminal fluid, including substances that change female fertility and postmating behavior. In Drosophila melanogaster, these substances increase female fertility and prevent mating with a second male. By using a PGal4 strain, we targeted together with other cells a dozen cholinergic neurons found only in the male abdominal ganglion (Abg-MAch). Genetic feminization apparently deleted these neurons in males and significantly increased their copulation duration, blocked their fertility in 60% of cases, and only weakly repressed remating in females. Genetic repression of Gal4 activity in all cholinergic neurons completely rescued copulation duration and fertility, and totally prevented remating, indicating that Abg-MAch neurons were functional. The conditional blocking of the synaptic activity of these neurons during copulation induced separate effects on the transfer of the seminal substances involved in fertilization and those involved in remating. These effects were dissociated only when Abg-MAch neurons were feminized, indicating that their presence is required to synchronize the emission of the male substance(s) that changes reproductive behaviors.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cholinergic Fibers / metabolism*
  • Cholinergic Fibers / physiology
  • Crosses, Genetic
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics
  • Drosophila melanogaster / metabolism*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / physiology
  • Female
  • Feminization / genetics*
  • Ganglia, Invertebrate / physiology
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Nuclear Proteins / genetics
  • Reproduction / physiology
  • Semen / metabolism*
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal*
  • Transcription Factors / genetics


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Tra protein, Drosophila
  • Transcription Factors