Sexually Antagonistic Male Signals Manipulate Germline and Soma of C. elegans Hermaphrodites

Erin Z. Aprison, Ilya Ruvinsky*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Males and females pursue different reproductive strategies, which often bring them into conflict—many traits exist that benefit one sex at a cost to another [1]. Decreased female survival following mating dramatically demonstrates one aspect of this phenomenon [2–5]. Particularly intriguing is the evidence that secreted compounds can shorten lifespan of members of the opposite sex in Drosophila [6] and Caenorhabditid nematodes [7] even without copulation taking place. The purpose of such signals is not clear, however. While it is possible that they could limit subsequent mating with competitors or hasten post-reproductive demise, thus decreasing competition for resources, they are also likely to harm unmated individuals. Why would a system exist that reduces the vigor of potential mates prior to mating? Addressing this question could provide insights into mechanisms and evolution of sexual conflict and reveal sensory inputs that regulate aging. Here, we describe two distinct ways in which Caenorhabditis elegans males cause faster somatic aging of hermaphrodites but also manipulate different aspects of their reproductive physiology. The first, mediated by conserved ascaroside pheromones, delays the loss of germline progenitor cells. The second accelerates development, resulting in faster sexual maturation. These signals promote male reproductive strategy and the effects harmful to hermaphrodites appear to be collateral damage rather than the goal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2827-2833
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number20
StatePublished - Oct 24 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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