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Perspective ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Genet. | doi: 10.3389/fgene.2019.00796

Males, the Wrongly Neglected Partners of the Biologically Unprecedented Male-Female Interaction of Schistosomes

  • 1Hinxton, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute (WT), United Kingdom
  • 2University of Marburg, Germany
  • 3BFS, Institut für Parasitologie, Justus Liebig Universität Gießen, Germany
  • 4Biologisch-Medizinisches Forschungszentrum Seltersberg (BFS), University of Giessen, Germany

Schistosomes are the only platyhelminths that have evolved separate sexes, and they exhibit a unique reproductive biology because the female's sexual maturation depends on a constant pairing-contact with the male. In the female, pairing leads to gonad differentiation, which is associated with substantial morphological changes, and controls among others the expression of gonad-associated genes. In the male, no morphological changes have been observed following pairing, although first data indicated an effect of pairing on gene transcription.
Comprehensive transcriptomic approaches have revealed an unexpected high number of genes that are differentially transcribed in the male following pairing. Their identities suggest roles for the male that are not restricted to feeding and enhanced muscular power to transport paired female and, as assumed before, to induce its sexual maturation by one “magic” factor. Instead, a more complex picture emerges in which both partners live in a reciprocal sender-recipient relationship that not only affect the gonads of both genders but may also involve tactile stimuli, TGFβ-signaling, nutritional parts, and neuronal processes including neuropeptides and GPCR signaling.
This review provides a summary of transcriptomics including an overview about pairing-dependently expressed genes in schistosome males. This may stimulate further research in understanding the role of the male as recipient of female signals upon pairing, the male´s “capacitation”, and its subsequent competence as a sender of information. The latter process, finally, transforms a sexually immature, autonomous female without completely developed gonads into a sexually mature, partially non-autonomous female with fully differentiated gonads and enormous egg-production capacity.

Keywords: schistosomes, Male-female interaction, Transcriptomics, pairing-dependent gene expression , TGFbeta signaling, Neuropeptide, GPCR

Received: 05 Apr 2019; Accepted: 30 Jul 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Lu, Spaenig, Weth and Grevelding. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. Christoph G. Grevelding, University of Giessen, Biologisch-Medizinisches Forschungszentrum Seltersberg (BFS), Giessen, 35392, Germany,