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Populations with elevated mutation load do not benefit from the operation of sexual selection.
Journal of Evolutionary Biology
Theory predicts that if most mutations are deleterious to both overall fitness and condition-dependent traits affecting mating success, sexual selection will purge mutation load and increase nonsexual fitness. We explored this possibility with populations of mutagenized Drosophila melanogaster exhibiting elevated levels of deleterious variation and evolving in the presence or absence of male-male competition and female choice. After 60 generations of experimental evolution, monogamous populations exhibited higher total reproductive output than polygamous populations. Parental environment also affected fitness measures - flies that evolved in the presence of sexual conflict showed reduced nonsexual fitness when their parents experienced a polygamous environment, indicating trans-generational effects of male harassment and highlighting the importance of a common garden design. This cost of parental promiscuity was nearly absent in monogamous lines, providing evidence for the evolution of reduced sexual antagonism. There was no overall difference in egg-to-adult viability between selection regimes. If mutation load was reduced by the action of sexual selection in this experiment, the resultant gain in fitness was not sufficient to overcome the costs of sexual antagonism.
Animals, Biological Evolution, Drosophila melanogaster/genetics, Female, Genetics, Population, Male, Mating Preference, Animal, Mutagenesis, Mutation, Selection, Genetic
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