Male compounds that may affect female immunity

Male insects are known to transfer compounds in their seminal fluids that affect female receptivity (e.g. Thornhill and Alcock, 1983), oviposition rates, and longevity (e.g. Chapman et al., 1995). Given that these physiologically active compounds affect a complex range of female traits it is likely that they may coincidently, or deliberately, enhance/reduce female immune function. For example, it has been established that male Drosophila transfer three different antimicrobial peptides in their seminal fluid (Lung et al., 2001) as well as transfer compounds that activate phenoloxidase in the female's genital tract (Asada and Kitagawa, 1988). These male-transferred compounds may function primarily to protect and/ or enhance the competitiveness of the male's ejaculate, but may have the correlated effect of protecting the female and/or reducing her immune costs as well. We know almost nothing about the immuno-logical function of insect seminal fluid and/or why males transfer these compounds.

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