Comparative proteomics uncovers the signature of natural selection acting on the ejaculate proteomes of two cricket species isolated by postmating, prezygotic phenotypes

Mol Biol Evol. 2011 Jan;28(1):423-35. doi: 10.1093/molbev/msq230. Epub 2010 Aug 30.


Two of the most well-supported patterns to have emerged over the past two decades of research in evolutionary biology are the occurrence of divergent natural selection acting on many male and female reproductive tract proteins and the importance of postmating, prezygotic phenotypes in reproductively isolating closely related species. Although these patterns appear to be common across a wide variety of taxa, the link between them remains poorly documented. Here, we utilize comparative proteomic techniques to determine whether or not there is evidence for natural selection acting on the ejaculate proteomes of two cricket species (Allonemobius fasciatus and A. socius) which are reproductively isolated primarily by postmating, prezygotic phenotypes. In addressing this question, we compare the degree of within-species polymorphism and between-species divergence between the ejaculate and thorax proteomes of these two species. We found that the ejaculate proteomes are both less polymorphic and more divergent than the thorax proteomes. Additionally, we assessed patterns of nucleotide variation for two species-specific ejaculate proteins and found evidence for both reduced levels of variation within species and positive selection driving divergence between species. In contrast, non-species-specific proteins exhibited higher levels of within-species nucleotide variation and no signatures of positive selection. Nucleotide and putative functional data for the two species-specific proteins, along with data for a third protein (ejaculate serine protease), suggest that all three of these genes are candidate speciation genes in need of further study. Overall, these patterns of proteome and nucleotide divergence provide support for the hypothesis that there is a causative link between selection-driven divergence of male ejaculate proteins and the evolution of postmating, prezygotic barriers to gene flow within Allonemobius.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Female
  • Genetic Variation
  • Gryllidae / genetics*
  • Gryllidae / physiology
  • Insect Proteins / analysis
  • Insect Proteins / genetics
  • Male
  • Mass Spectrometry / methods
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phenotype
  • Proteome / analysis*
  • Proteomics / methods*
  • Reproduction / genetics*
  • Selection, Genetic*
  • Semen / chemistry*
  • Species Specificity


  • Insect Proteins
  • Proteome