EEB Seminar: May 1st

Julia Duszczyszyn will talk on

Precious sperm and nurturing females: reversing stereotypes about fertilization biology

at 12:30 in the EEB lounge (BioSciences 4338)

When we think about sexual selection, we are drawn to colourful examples of male combat, colouration, courtship dances, songs, nuptial gifts, and the list goes on and on. We all know what happens before mating, but what happens next? In the last few decades, recognition of the complexity and diversity of sexually-selected processes occurring after mating has grown. This post-copulatory sexual selection takes two major forms: sperm competition and cryptic female choice. My research has made use of a long-term evolution experiment that has produced a model phylogeny of Drosophila melanogaster lines with wildly different life history strategies to study the evolution of sperm and sperm-female interactions. I introduced GFP-labeled sperm to these populations to study the transfer of sperm and subsequent interaction between sperm and the female reproductive tract in vivo. My results suggest that sperm, testes, and the female reproductive tract can evolve rapidly in this species, and that sperm are both costly to produce and costly to maintain in the female storage organs. This work contributes to an ever-deeper understanding of the tradeoffs underlying post-copulatory sexual selection and sperm storage. I see beautiful complexity in the coevolution between male and female in this hidden arena of interaction.

Julia Duszczyszyn is a Master’s student at Queen’s University working with Adam Chippendale. Broadly, Julia is interested in sperm morphology. Her research examines trade-offs between sperm development (e.g., size, performance, quantity) and the time required to reach sexual maturity in fruit flies. Recent advances in sperm studies make it possible to watch drosophila sperm in real time; these sperm glow red or green and bumble their way down the female reproductive track like a Christmas parade. Julia has spent countless hours carefully dissecting recently inseminated female fruit flies and video taping sperm in action to quantify aspects of sperm morphology and performance.

Everyone is welcome to attend
Coffee and treats available at the seminar

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