Sexual conflict, sexual selection, and genetic variance in fitness

  • Datum:
  • Plats: Zootissalen, Norbyv. 18, Uppsala
  • Doktorand: Grieshop, Karl
  • Om avhandlingen
  • Arrangör: Zooekologi
  • Kontaktperson: Grieshop, Karl
  • Disputation

Understanding sex-specific genetic variance for fitness is of fundamental importance to our understanding of evolution. This thesis presents the findings of empirical investigations into sex-specific genetic variance in fitness.

The findings are discussed in terms of their implications for our understanding of the classic evolutionary paradoxes of what maintains genetic variance in fitness and what maintains sexual reproduction, as well as more specific implications regarding adaptation and population viability. Males and females reproduce and accrue fitness in fundamentally different ways, which inevitably comes at a detriment to the fitness of individuals of the opposite sex. This is known as sexual conflict, and because males and females use largely the same genome to develop, grow and reproduce, a genetic tug-of-war ensues. Alternative alleles at sexually antagonistic (SA) genes have opposing fitness effects in males and females. The consequence of this genetic tug-of-war is that alternative allelic variants at SA loci can be maintained in the population. Such SA genetic variation can therefore maintain genetic variance for fitness. Variance in fitness can also be maintained by a constant influx of mutations with weakly deleterious effects and weak selection against them, in what is referred to as mutation-selection balance. Because the average deleterious mutation will be detrimental to both sexes, this source of genetic variance in fitness will have predominantly sexually concordant (SC) effects. This thesis uses a wild-caught population of the seed beetle Callosobruchus maculatus to investigate these two mechanisms of maintaining genetic variance in fitness, as well as the consequences they bear on adaptation, population viability, and the maintenance of sexual reproduction. Results largely support much of the theoretical expectations for sexual conflict, sexual selection and maintenance of genetic variance in fitness, as well as stimulate new thoughts and hypotheses about the nature of SA genetic variation and its interaction with weakly deleterious partially recessive mutations.