Evolution of sperm competition: Natural variation and genetic determinants of Caenorhabditis elegans sperm size

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Clotilde GimondChristian Braendle

Abstract

Sperm morphology is critical for sperm competition and thus for reproductive fitness. In the male-hermaphrodite nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, sperm size is a key feature of sperm competitive ability. Yet despite extensive research, the molecular mechanisms regulating C. elegans sperm size and the genetic basis underlying its natural variation remain unknown. Examining 97 genetically distinct C. elegans strains, we observe significant heritable variation in male sperm size but genome-wide association mapping did not yield any QTL (Quantitative Trait Loci). While we confirm larger male sperm to consistently outcompete smaller hermaphrodite sperm, we find natural variation in male sperm size to poorly predict male fertility and competitive ability. In addition, although hermaphrodite sperm size also shows significant natural variation, male and hermaphrodite sperm size do not correlate, implying a sex-specific genetic regulation of sperm size. To elucidate the molecular basis of intraspecific sperm size variation, we focused on recently diverged laboratory strains, which evolved extreme sperm size differences. Using mutants and quantitative complementation tests, we demonstrate that variation in the gene nurf-1 - previously sho...Continue Reading

Related Concepts

Fertility
Genes
Genome
Hermaphroditism
Laboratory
Research
Sperm Cell
Caenorhabditis elegans
Complement Assay
Antagonists

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