Sex peptide causes mating costs in female Drosophila melanogaster

Curr Biol. 2005 Feb 22;15(4):316-21. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2005.01.051.


Conflicts between females and males over reproductive decisions are common . In Drosophila, as in many other organisms, there is often a conflict over how often to mate. The mating frequency that maximizes male reproductive success is higher than that which maximizes female reproductive success . In addition, frequent mating reduces female lifespan and reproductive success , a cost that is mediated by male ejaculate accessory gland proteins (Acps) . We demonstrate here that a single Acp, the sex peptide (SP or Acp70A), which decreases female receptivity and stimulates egg production in the first matings of virgin females , is a major contributor to Acp-mediated mating costs in females. Females continuously exposed to SP-deficient males (which produce no detectable SP ) had significantly higher fitness and higher lifetime reproductive success than control females. Hence, rather than benefiting both sexes, receipt of SP decreases female fitness, making SP the first identified gene that is likely to play a central role in sexual conflict.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / metabolism
  • Drosophila melanogaster / physiology*
  • Female
  • Fertility / physiology
  • Male
  • Peptides / metabolism*
  • Semen / chemistry*
  • Sex Factors
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal / physiology*


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Peptides
  • SP protein, Drosophila