Female mating experience and genetic background independently influence male mating success in fruit flies
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When the reproductive interests of males and females conflict, males can evolve traits that are harmful to females, and females can coevolve traits to resist this harm. In the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, there is genetic variation in female resistance traits, which can affect the pre- and post-mating success of males that try to mate with them. However, it is not clear to what extent the expression of these phenotypes can be modified by environmental factors such as sociosexual experience. Here, we tested how the genetic background of a female and her previous mating experience interact to affect the mating success of focal males. In the experience phase, we placed females from 28 distinct genetic backgrounds individually either with a single male (low conflict) or with three males (high conflict) for 48 hr. In the subsequent test phase, we measured the mating and post-mating fertilization success of focal males paired individually with each female. We found that focal males paired with females from the high-conflict treatment were less successful at mating, took longer to mate when they were successful, and had a lower proportion of paternity share. Furthermore, we identified significant female genetic variation associated with male mating success. These results indicate that female experience, along with intrinsic genetic factors, can independently influence different fitness components of her subsequent mates and has implications for our understanding of plastic female mating strategies and the evolution of sexually antagonistic traits in males and females.
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