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Unlocking the "Black box": internal female genitalia in Sepsidae (Diptera) evolve fast and are species-specific


Puniamoorthy, Nalini; Kotrba, Marion; Meier, Rudolf (2010). Unlocking the "Black box": internal female genitalia in Sepsidae (Diptera) evolve fast and are species-specific. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 10:275.

Abstract

Background: The species-specificity of male genitalia has been well documented in many insect groups and sexual selection has been proposed as the evolutionary force driving the often rapid, morphological divergence. The internal female genitalia, in sharp contrast, remain poorly studied. Here, we present the first comparative study of the internal reproductive system of Sepsidae. We test the species-specificity of the female genitalia by comparing recently diverged sister taxa. We also compare the rate of change in female morphological characters with the rate of fast-evolving, molecular and behavioral characters. Results: We describe the ectodermal parts of the female reproductive tract for 41 species representing 21 of the 37 described genera and define 19 morphological characters with discontinuous variation found in eight structures that are part of the reproductive tract. Using a well-resolved molecular phylogeny based on 10 genes, we reconstruct the evolution of these characters across the family 120 steps; Consistency Index (CI): 0.41]. Two structures, in particular, evolve faster than the rest. The first is the ventral receptacle, which is a secondary sperm storage organ. It accounts for more than half of all the evolutionary changes observed (7 characters; 61 steps; CI: 0.46). It is morphologically diverse across genera, can be bi-lobed or multi-chambered (up to 80 chambers), and is strongly sclerotized in one clade. The second structure is the dorsal sclerite, which is present in all sepsids except Orygma luctuosum and Ortalischema albitarse. It is associated with the opening of the spermathecal ducts and is often distinct even among sister species (4 characters; 16 steps; CI: 0.56). Conclusions: We find the internal female genitalia are diverse in Sepsidae and diagnostic for all species. In particular, fast-evolving structures like the ventral receptacle and dorsal sclerite are likely involved in post-copulatory sexual selection. In comparison to behavioral and molecular data, the female structures are evolving 2/3 as fast as the non-constant third positions of the COI barcoding gene. They display less convergent evolution in characters (CI = 0.54) than the third positions or sepsid mating behavior (CICOI = 0.36; CIBEHAV = 0.45).

Abstract

Background: The species-specificity of male genitalia has been well documented in many insect groups and sexual selection has been proposed as the evolutionary force driving the often rapid, morphological divergence. The internal female genitalia, in sharp contrast, remain poorly studied. Here, we present the first comparative study of the internal reproductive system of Sepsidae. We test the species-specificity of the female genitalia by comparing recently diverged sister taxa. We also compare the rate of change in female morphological characters with the rate of fast-evolving, molecular and behavioral characters. Results: We describe the ectodermal parts of the female reproductive tract for 41 species representing 21 of the 37 described genera and define 19 morphological characters with discontinuous variation found in eight structures that are part of the reproductive tract. Using a well-resolved molecular phylogeny based on 10 genes, we reconstruct the evolution of these characters across the family 120 steps; Consistency Index (CI): 0.41]. Two structures, in particular, evolve faster than the rest. The first is the ventral receptacle, which is a secondary sperm storage organ. It accounts for more than half of all the evolutionary changes observed (7 characters; 61 steps; CI: 0.46). It is morphologically diverse across genera, can be bi-lobed or multi-chambered (up to 80 chambers), and is strongly sclerotized in one clade. The second structure is the dorsal sclerite, which is present in all sepsids except Orygma luctuosum and Ortalischema albitarse. It is associated with the opening of the spermathecal ducts and is often distinct even among sister species (4 characters; 16 steps; CI: 0.56). Conclusions: We find the internal female genitalia are diverse in Sepsidae and diagnostic for all species. In particular, fast-evolving structures like the ventral receptacle and dorsal sclerite are likely involved in post-copulatory sexual selection. In comparison to behavioral and molecular data, the female structures are evolving 2/3 as fast as the non-constant third positions of the COI barcoding gene. They display less convergent evolution in characters (CI = 0.54) than the third positions or sepsid mating behavior (CICOI = 0.36; CIBEHAV = 0.45).

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Language:English
Date:September 2010
Deposited On:31 Jan 2011 16:17
Last Modified:07 Dec 2017 06:38
Publisher:BioMed Central
ISSN:1471-2148
Funders:Ministry of Education in Singapore R-377-000-040-112]
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2148-10-275
PubMed ID:20831809
Other Identification Number:ISI:000282769300002

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