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Data from: Genetic and environmental variation in transcriptional expression of seminal fluid proteins

Cite this dataset

Patlar, Bahar; Weber, Michael; Ramm, Steven A. (2018). Data from: Genetic and environmental variation in transcriptional expression of seminal fluid proteins [Dataset]. Dryad.


Seminal fluid proteins (SFPs) are crucial mediators of sexual selection and sexual conflict. Recent studies have chiefly focused on environmentally-induced plasticity as one source of variation in SFP expression, particularly in response to differing sperm competition levels. However, understanding the evolution of a trait in heterogenous environments requires estimates of both environmental and genetic sources of variation, as well as their interaction. Therefore, we investigated how environment (specifically mating group size, a good predictor of sperm competition intensity), genotypic and genotype-by-environment interactions affect seminal fluid expression. To do so, we reared 12 inbred lines of a simultaneously hermaphroditic flatworm Macrostomum lignano in groups of either two or eight worms and measured the expression levels of 58 putative SFP transcripts. We then examined the source of variation in the expression of each transcript individually and for multivariate axes extracted from a principal component analysis. We found that mating group size did not affect expression levels according to the single transcript analyses, nor did it affect the first principal component (presumably representing overall investment in seminal fluid production). However, mating group size did affect the relative expression of different transcripts captured by the second principal component (presumably reflecting variation in seminal fluid composition). Most transcripts were genetically variable in their expression level and several exhibited genotype-by-environment interactions; relative composition also showed high genetic variation. Collectively, our results reveal the tightly integrated nature of the seminal fluid transcriptome and provide new insights into the quantitative genetic basis of seminal fluid investment and composition.

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