An innovative ovipositor for niche exploitation impacts genital coevolution between sexes in a fruit-damaging Drosophila

Leona Muto, Yoshitaka Kamimura, Kentaro M. Tanaka, Aya Takahashi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Limited attention has been given to ecological factors influencing the coevolution of male and female genitalia. The innovative ovipositor of Drosophila suzukii, an invading fruit pest, represents an appealing case to document this phenomenon. The serrated saw-like ovipositor is used to pierce the hard skin of ripening fruits that are not used by other fruit flies that prefer soft decaying fruits. Here, we highlight another function of the ovipositor related to its involvement in genital coupling during copulation. We compared the morphology and coupling of male and female genitalia in this species to its sibling species, Drosophila subpulchrella, and to an outgroup species, Drosophila biarmipes. These comparisons and a surgical manipulation indicated that the shape of male genitalia in D. suzukii has had to be adjusted to ensure tight coupling, despite having to abandon the use of a hook-like structure, paramere, because of the more linearly elongated ovipositor. This phenomenon demonstrates that ecological niche exploitation can directly affect the mechanics of genital coupling and potentially cause incompatibility among divergent forms. This model case provides new insights towards elucidating the importance of the dual functions of ovipositors in other insect species that potentially induce genital coevolution and ecological speciation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20181635
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1887
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Sept 26


  • Drosophila subpulchrella
  • Drosophila suzukii
  • coevolution between the sexes
  • mechanical incompatibility
  • morphology of genitalia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'An innovative ovipositor for niche exploitation impacts genital coevolution between sexes in a fruit-damaging Drosophila'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this