Date of Submission

Spring 2013

Academic Program

Biology

Project Advisor 1

Philip Johns

Abstract/Artist's Statement

The evolution of exaggerated male traits that arise through sexual selection has received much attention in recent years. As a result of the often conspicuous nature of these traits, researchers have extensively examined and modeled their evolution and have identified specific candidate genes that may give rise to their development. However, few studies exist that examine the candidate genes controlling female preference for male traits. The Malaysian stalk-eyed fly, Teleopsis dalmanni, is a compelling example of a sexually dimorphic species in which males have evolved exaggerated eye stalks through sexual selection. Only a handful of studies on other species have discovered genes involved in mate preference, but the genes controlling mate choice and preference in T. dalmanni have yet to be investigated or identified.

In this study, I used a combination of female choice experiments and quantitative real-time PCR to screen twelve candidate genes and evaluate their relationship to female preference behavior in T. dalmanni stalk-eyed flies. I examined the expression profiles of the following genes: period, desaturase1.1, desaturase1.2, no-on-transient A, doublesex, fruitless, InR1.1, InR1.2, InR2, Pdfr, YP1 and YP2; where rpL32 was used as a housekeeping gene to compare gene expression. During the preliminary screening process, I exposed 16 female flies to two social situations and performed qRT-PCR on cDNA from their heads and ovaries. After this screen, I narrowed down my list of genes to doublesex, period, YP1, and desat1.1, increased my sample size to 28 females, and introduced another social treatment into my experimental protocol. My results show that different social encounters and the latency of social encounters has significant effects on the expression of these genes, providing evidence for their role in female sexual behavior.

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