Sexual reproduction exposes females to immune threats. The immune response of females to these threats may conflict with male reproductive interests. We examine the hypothesis that in the Mediterranean fruit fly, Ceratitis capitata, female immune activity during and after copulation reflects this conflict, and its resolution. By comparing the temporal changes in immune status of females paired with normal males to virgin females of the same age, or to those paired with surgically altered males (that perform normal courtship without intromission), we determined the specific effects of courtship, intromission and insemination on female immune response. At the initiation of mating, levels of the immune enzyme Phenoloxidase (PO) were higher in mated females compared to virgin females. Females who copulated with normal males, compared to females paired with males lacking external genitalia, had significantly higher levels of PO. However, 2 h after the beginning of mating PO levels decreased significantly, and increased again 24 h later. These changes may be interpreted as a sequential resolution of the ongoing conflict of interest between males and females, with the advantage shifting from one sex to another.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Acknowledgements We thank Batia Kaminsky and Shlomit Shloush for their invaluable assistance, Shai Morin and Hillary Voet for statistical advice and Phil W. Taylor for his incisive comments. This research was funded by a grant from the Israel Science Foundation to B.Y.
- Insect immunity
- Sexual conflict