Indexed on: 06 Dec '11Published on: 06 Dec '11Published in: Journal of Insect Physiology
In Drosophila melanogaster, the male-specific splice isoform of the fruitless gene (Fru(M)) encodes a set of transcription factors that are involved in the regulation of male courtship and copulation. Recent insights from non-drosophilid insects suggest a conserved evolutionary role for the transcription factor Fruitless. In the desert locust, Schistocerca gregaria and the German cockroach, Blatella germanica, both orthopteran insects, a conserved functional role for fruitless has been proposed. Fru specific RNAi knockdown in the third nymphal stage of male Schistocera gregaria delays copulation initiation and results in reduced progeny. In order to identify the origin of the observed phenotypic effects following a fruitless RNAi treatment in the male, we show that the fru knockdown has no detectable effect on spermio- or spermatogenesis and on the transfer of spermatozoa during copulation. Nevertheless, it is clear that the male seminal vesicles contain significantly less spermatozoa after fru RNAi as compared to gfp RNAi controls. We conclude that a lowered male fertility, caused by the fru knockdown in male desert locusts may be the direct cause for the reduction of the progeny numbers in their naïve female copulation partners.