Genetic Contributions to Ectopic Sperm Cell Migration in Caenorhabditis Nematodes

G3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics. 2018;8(12):3891-3902 DOI 10.1534/g3.118.200785


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Journal Title: G3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics

ISSN: 2160-1836 (Online)

Publisher: Genetics Society of America

Society/Institution: Genetics Society of America

LCC Subject Category: Science: Biology (General): Genetics

Country of publisher: United States

Language of fulltext: English

Full-text formats available: PDF, HTML



Janice J. Ting
Caressa N. Tsai
Rebecca Schalkowski
Asher D. Cutter


Blind peer review

Editorial Board

Instructions for authors

Time From Submission to Publication: 11 weeks


Abstract | Full Text

Reproductive barriers involving gametic incompatibilities can act to enhance population divergence and promote the persistence of species boundaries. Observing gametic interactions in internal fertilizing organisms, however, presents a considerable practical challenge to characterizing mechanisms of such gametic isolation. Here we exploit the transparency of Caenorhabditis nematodes to investigate gametic isolation mediated by sperm that can migrate to ectopic locations, with this sperm invasion capable of inducing female sterility and premature death. As a step toward identifying genetic factors and mechanisms associated with female susceptibility to sperm invasion, we characterized a panel of 25 C. elegans genetic mutants to test for effects on the incidence and severity of sperm invasion in both conspecific and inter-species matings. We found genetic perturbations to contribute to distinct patterns of susceptibility that identify ovulation dynamics and sperm guidance cues as modulators of ectopic sperm migration incidence and severity. Genotypes confer distinctive phenotypic sensitivities to the sperm from conspecific C. elegans males vs. heterospecific C. nigoni males, implicating evolution of functional divergence in the history of these species for components of sperm-reproductive tract interactions. Sexually-antagonistic co-evolution within species that drives divergent trait and molecular evolution between species provides a working model to explain mismatched species-specific gametic interactions that promote or mitigate ectopic sperm migration.