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Paternal alleles enhance female reproductive success in tropical pythons


Thomas Madsen, Fax: +61 24221 4135; E-mail: address:


The conventional view that female reproductive success is unlikely to benefit from multiple mating has come under strong challenge in recent years. In the present study, we demonstrate that the time wild-caught reproductive female water pythons (Liasis fuscus) spent in the laboratory prior to oviposition affected both hatching success and the number of male microsatellite alleles detected in the broods. A negative correlation between time in captivity and number of male alleles observed in the broods suggests that reduced hatching success was most likely not caused by environmental factors such as nonoptimal temperatures, but rather by restricted mating opportunities. Maternal nutritional status and mean hatchling mass did not affect brood viability. However, our results revealed a positive correlation between number of male microsatellite alleles observed in the broods and hatching success, suggesting that increased paternal genetic variability enhanced female reproductive success. As microsatellite loci are unlikely to be direct targets of selection, we suggest that variability at these loci may cosegregate with other polymorphic genes directly linked to fitness.

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