The Battle of the Sperm: Observations of Sperm Competition in a Wolbachia Infected Species

LaTrice Montgomery, a student from Hampton University, worked with Paul Ginsberg in the lab of Dr. Kelly Dyer to study sperm competition in an infected fly species.

Abstract:  Wolbachia, a maternally inherited bacterium, is broadly distributed among arthropod hosts. It is also capable of reducing viral load in its host, preventing the transmission of human pathogens and thus raising the possibility of its use as a biocontrol agent. In this study, we ask whether Wolbachia has any effects on the mating system of its host, specifically whether it affects patterns of male fertility and/or sperm competition. We conducted mating trials using the fly, Drosophila recens, which is naturally infected with Wolbachia. We utilized an infected, dark eye recessive mutant D. recens and uninfected, red eye wild type D. recens to assess paternity of infected and uninfected males. We found that there are no advantages or disadvantages of Wolbachia infection for male fertility or sperm competition.

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