Skip to Main Content

Tsetse Reproductive Biology

Tsetse has a unique reproductive physiology and developmental cycle. They undergo viviparous reproduction (the deposition of live offspring). In tsetse this process is highly specialized. Larval development is almost entirely intrauterine and the mother supplies nutrients to her offspring in the form of a milk secretion from a specialized gland (milk gland). Female flies develop a single larva at a time. As a result, a single female can generate around eight offspring in her lifecycle. This is significantly less than most other Diptera, such as mosquitoes, that are capable of generating hundreds of offspring in the span of a single life cycle. The low reproductive rate in tsetse represents a potential target for vector control as blockage of this process could have dramatic effects on population density. Fecundity of the female is supported by the obligate endosymbiont Wigglesworthia, which produces Vitamin B metabolites, which are low in the single diet of tsetse, the vertebrate blood. Fertility is also enabled by the sperm and accessory gland products that the females receives during the mating process. We have applied transcriptomic and proteomic approaches to discover the composition of the male accessory gland products females receive during the mating process.