Novel seminal fluid proteins in the seed beetle Callosobruchus maculatus identified by a proteomic and transcriptomic approach

Insect Mol Biol. 2017 Feb;26(1):58-73. doi: 10.1111/imb.12271. Epub 2016 Oct 24.


The seed beetle Callosobruchus maculatus is a significant agricultural pest and increasingly studied model of sexual conflict. Males possess genital spines that increase the transfer of seminal fluid proteins (SFPs) into the female body. As SFPs alter female behaviour and physiology, they are likely to modulate reproduction and sexual conflict in this species. Here, we identified SFPs using proteomics combined with a de novo transcriptome. A prior 2D-sodium dodecyl sulphate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis analysis identified male accessory gland protein spots that were probably transferred to the female at mating. Proteomic analysis of these spots identified 98 proteins, a majority of which were also present within ejaculates collected from females. Standard annotation workflows revealed common functional groups for SFPs, including proteases and metabolic proteins. Transcriptomic analysis found 84 transcripts differentially expressed between the sexes. Notably, genes encoding 15 proteins were highly expressed in male abdomens and only negligibly expressed within females. Most of these sequences corresponded to 'unknown' proteins (nine of 15) and may represent rapidly evolving SFPs novel to seed beetles. Our combined analyses highlight 44 proteins for which there is strong evidence that they are SFPs. These results can inform further investigation, to better understand the molecular mechanisms of sexual conflict in seed beetles.

Keywords: coleoptera; evolution; reproduction; seminal fluid.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Coleoptera / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Insect Proteins / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Phenotype
  • Proteome
  • Semen / metabolism*
  • Transcriptome*


  • Insect Proteins
  • Proteome