Seminal proteins but not sperm induce morphological changes in the Drosophila melanogaster female reproductive tract during sperm storage

J Insect Physiol. 2007 Apr;53(4):319-31. doi: 10.1016/j.jinsphys.2006.12.003. Epub 2006 Dec 29.


In most insects, sperm transferred by the male to the female during mating are stored within the female reproductive tract for subsequent use in fertilization. In Drosophila melanogaster, male accessory gland proteins (Acps) within the seminal fluid are required for efficient accumulation of sperm in the female's sperm storage organs. To determine the events within the female reproductive tract that occur during sperm storage, and the role that Acps and sperm play in these events, we identified morphological changes that take place during sperm storage in females mated to wild-type, Acp-deficient or sperm-deficient males. A reproducible set of morphological changes occurs in a wild-type mating. These were categorized into 10 stereotypic stages. Sperm are not needed for progression through these stages in females, but receipt of Acps is essential for progression beyond the first few stages of morphological change. Furthermore, females that received small quantities of Acps reached slightly later stages than females that received no Acps. Our results suggest that timely morphological changes in the female reproductive tract, possibly muscular in nature, may be needed for successful sperm storage, and that Acps from the male are needed in order for these changes to occur.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drosophila Proteins / physiology*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / anatomy & histology
  • Drosophila melanogaster / chemistry
  • Drosophila melanogaster / physiology*
  • Female
  • Male
  • Reproduction / physiology
  • Semen / chemistry
  • Semen / physiology
  • Seminal Plasma Proteins / physiology*
  • Spermatozoa / physiology*


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Seminal Plasma Proteins