Register for an account


Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.


Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.

The Sciences

NCBI ROFL: Hey baby, your snot trail really turns me on...

DiscoblogBy ncbi roflJune 28, 2011 4:00 AM


Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news


Male discrimination of female mucous trails permits assortative mating in a marine snail species. "Recent research has shown the potential for nonallopatric speciation, but we lack an adequate understanding of the mechanisms of prezygotic barriers and how these evolve in the presence of gene flow. The marine snail Littorina saxatilis has distinct ecotypes in different shore microhabitats. Ecotypes hybridize in contact zones, but gene flow is impeded by assortative mating. Earlier studies have shown that males and females of the same ecotype copulate for longer than mates of different ecotype. Here we report a new mechanism that further contributes to reproductive isolation between ecotypes in the presence of gene flow. This mechanism is linked to the ability of males to track potential partners by following their mucous trail. We show that cliff ecotype males follow the trails of females of the same ecotype for longer than females of the alternate (boulder) ecotype. In addition, cliff males are more likely to follow the mucous trail in the correct direction if the trail is laid by a cliff-female. The capacity to discriminate the ecotype of female mucous trails combined with differential copulation times creates a strong prezygotic reproductive barrier between ecotypes of L. saxatilis that reduces gene flow from cliff to boulder ecotypes by >/=80%."


Photo: flickr/duchessoftea

Related content: Discoblog: NCBI ROFL: What’s better than an earwig with one penis?

Discoblog: NCBI ROFL: Traumatic insemination and sexual conflict in the bed bug Cimex lectularius.

Discoblog: NCBI ROFL: I vaaaant to suuuuck your…

WTF is NCBI ROFL? Read our FAQ


    2 Free Articles Left

    Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.


    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

    Want unlimited access?

    Subscribe today and save 70%


    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In