Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

About the PNAS Member Editor
Name Wolfner, Mariana F.
Location Cornell University
Primary Field Genetics
Secondary Field Evolutionary Biology
 Election Citation
Wolfner studies seminal proteins and has made important discoveries into the molecules, mechanisms, and evolutionary forces that govern fertility.
 Research Interests
In one of our research areas, we dissect roles of seminal fluid proteins in post-mating responses in females. Seminal proteins induce changes in mated females in all taxa tested. We aim to understand at the molecular level how these male proteins cause changes in females, and how this inter-animal interaction and its molecules evolve. We study the genetic model-insect Drosophila and (with L. Harrington) the dengue/Zika-vector mosquito Aedes aegypti. Now that we know the complete suite of seminal proteins in Drosophila, we are investigating the receptors and pathways through which they act in the female. We focus primarily on a seminal protein that stimulates the female insect to ovulate, and on another that binds to sperm and induces gut growth, sperm storage and other effects in the female. With A. Clark we examine female genetic contributions to sperm-competition/preference in multiple-mating situations. Finally, we dissect the molecular signals that "activate" an oocyte to initiate embryo development. We showed that Drosophila oocytes activate by taking up calcium via a conserved mechanically-gated ion channel. Our genetics, proteomics, and X-ray fluorescence microscopy identify conserved proteins and ionic changes that alter the proteome, transcriptome, and cell cycle during the transition from egg to embryo.

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