SPEAKER: Dr Susanne Zajitschek, The Donana Biological Station (Public Research Institute), Spanish Council for Scientific Research CSIC (Natural Resources), Spain
DATE: Friday, 28h October 2016
LOCATION: Geelong Campus at Waurn Ponds – room ka4.207
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ABSTRACT: I am interested in sexual selection, and in particular, what is happening post-mating.
In this talk, I would like to introduce you to my current research, which started out linking sperm phenotypes and offspring behaviour, and led to the investigation of the transgenerational effects that sexual interactions have: Sexual interactions between males and females often result in suboptimal outcomes for each of the sexes, shifting fitness outcomes away from sex-specific phenotypic optima, leading to sexual conflict.
For example, optimal mating rates for males may be substantially higher than for females. This is because males typically maximise their reproductive success by mating with multiple partners. In contrast, female reproductive success is primarily constrained by the relatively small number of gametes she can produce in a lifetime, rather than the number of prospective matings she can acquire, and a high level of sexual interactions may not be in the best interests of females.
However, even in systems with high sexual conflict (such as the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster) females often mate with multiple mates, incurring male-induced harm on a repeated basis. This is puzzling given that a single copulation typically provides enough sperm to the female to fertilize her complete set of ova.
This behaviour might be adaptive if females either gain direct benefits (such as mating gifts) or indirect (genetic) benefits, e.g. by producing higher quality or more successful offspring.
I aim to investigate the costs and benefits for females across multiple generations, to gain an understanding of the “economics” of sexual conflict.
BIO: I did my PhD at the University of New South Wales in 2008 with Rob Brooks, looking at inbreeding avoidance mechanisms in guppies.
I then went postdocing in France (CNRS, investigating lizard dispersal biology with Jean Clobert), Sweden (Uppsala University, linking sperm with offspring phenotypes with Simone Immler) and the U.S. (George Washington University, working with Mollie Manier, investigating the underlying genetics of variation in fruit fly sperm morphology).
Currently, I divide my time between Seville/Spain and Monash, investigating the transgenerational consequences of sexual interactions.
Appointments with guest speaker may be made via Lee Ann Rollins.