Sperm storage and use in polyandrous females of the globally invasive fruitfly, Ceratitis capitata

J Insect Physiol. 2010 Nov;56(11):1542-51. doi: 10.1016/j.jinsphys.2010.05.006. Epub 2010 May 18.


The medfly, Ceratitis capitata, is an invasive species in which polyandry, associated with sperm precedence, is a common behaviour in the wild. In this species, characterized by internal fertilization, we disclose how the sperm from two males are stored in the female storage organs and how they are used in terms of paternity outcome. The experiments were designed to furnish comparable and unbiased estimates of sperm numbers and progeny in twice-mated females. Results are incorporated in a model through which it is possible to relate the amount of stored sperm with the progeny of twice-mated females. The results show that polyandrous medfly females conserve equal amounts of sperm from the two males to fertilize their eggs. However, we observed a clear advantage of the second male's sperm in siring progeny, which interestingly decreases in favor of the first male as ovipositions progress. The results enable us to exclude differential sperm mortality and suggest that it is the mechanics governing the storage organs which causes the initial, but decreasing second male sperm precedence during the female reproductive life. These outcomes allow us to correlate sperm use in polyandrous females with the mating strategies and invasiveness of this fly.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Ceratitis capitata / genetics
  • Ceratitis capitata / physiology*
  • Female
  • Genitalia, Female / physiology
  • Male
  • Microsatellite Repeats
  • Reproduction
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Spermatozoa / physiology*