Seminal fluid proteins (SFPs) can trigger drastic changes in mating partners, mediating post-mating sexual selection and associated sexual conflict. Also, cross-species comparisons have demonstrated that SFPs evolve rapidly and hint that post-mating sexual selection drives their rapid evolution. In principle, this pattern should be detectable within species as rapid among-population divergence in SFP expression and function. However, given the multiple other factors that could vary among populations, isolating divergence in SFP-mediated effects is not straightforward. Here we attempted to address this gap by combining the power of a common garden design with functional assays involving artificial injection of SFPs in the simultaneously hermaphroditic freshwater snail, Lymnaea stagnalis. We detected among-population divergence in SFP gene expression, suggesting that seminal fluid composition differs among four populations collected in western Europe. Furthermore, by artificially injecting seminal fluid extracted from these field-derived snails into standardized mating partners, we also detected among-population divergence in the strength of post-mating effects induced by seminal fluid. Both egg production and subsequent sperm transfer of partners differed depending on the population origin of seminal fluid, with the response in egg production seemingly closely corresponding to among-population divergence in SFP gene expression. Our results thus lend strong intraspecific support to the notion that SFP expression and function evolve rapidly, and confirm L. stagnalis as an amenable system for studying processes driving SFP evolution.
|Date made available||1 Jan 2020|