All's fair in love and war

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Science  07 Jul 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6346, pp. 44-45
DOI: 10.1126/science.357.6346.44-f

Ejaculates not only deliver sperm; other components promote sperm survival and control female reproductive physiology. Insects produce complex ejaculates in packages called spermatophores, which also act as plugs to prevent sneaky mating by rival males. Meslin et al. discovered that spermatophores are the object of an evolutionary arms race in cabbage white butterflies. These plugs have tough outer proline-rich capsules, but the female butterflies have evolved a range of proteases that can digest them and thus hasten the time when she can become receptive again. This butterfly has taken back control of her reproduction.

Female cabbage white butterflies have evolved methods to break down spermatophore plugs, thus hijacking control of when they can mate again.


Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 10.1073/pnas.1707680114 (2017).

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