Genes whose products are involved in reproduction include some of the fastest-evolving genes found within the genomes of several organisms. Drosophila has long been used to study the function and evolutionary dynamics of genes thought to be involved in sperm competition and sexual conflict, two processes that have been hypothesized to drive the adaptive evolution of reproductive molecules. Several seminal fluid proteins (Acps) made in the Drosophila male reproductive tract show evidence of rapid adaptive evolution. To identify candidate genes in the female reproductive tract that may be involved in female-male interactions and that may thus have been subjected to adaptive evolution, we used an evolutionary bioinformatics approach to analyze sequences from a cDNA library that we have generated from Drosophila female reproductive tracts. We further demonstrate that several of these genes have been subjected to positive selection. Their expression in female reproductive tracts, presence of signal sequences/transmembrane domains, and rapid adaptive evolution indicate that they are prime candidates to encode female reproductive molecules that interact with rapidly evolving male Acps.
Department of Biology

Swanson, W.J. (Willie J.), Wong, A, Wolfner, M.F. (Mariana F.), & Aquadro, C.F. (Charles F.). (2004). Evolutionary expressed sequence tag analysis of drosophila female reproductive tracts identifies genes subjected to positive selection. Genetics, 168(3), 1457–1465. doi:10.1534/genetics.104.030478