Sex, mutation and fitness: asymmetric costs and routes to recovery through compensatory evolution


Alison Pischedda, Department of Biology, Queen's University, Kingston, ON, Canada K7L 3N6.
Tel.: 613 533 6000 x77141, 77464; fax: 613 533 6617;


A wild-type population of Drosophila melanogaster was used to assess the impact of a known deleterious mutation, nub1, when it had (1) evolved for up to 180 generations with the mutation or (2) recently had the same mutant allele introgressed into it. Relative to this benchmark, we observed much stronger initial fitness depression in males (−74%) than in females (−38%) and also relatively greater fitness recovery by evolved males (+55%) than females (+17%). Experimental assays revealed amelioration in both juvenile and adult fitness and suggested that the greater relative recovery of male fitness was from gains through sexual selection. These evolutionary changes in male fertility depended on pairing with their coevolved mates for both mate choice and post-copulatory components of sexual selection. Without replication at the population level, these results are used to motivate a general hypothesis rather than definitively test it: Differences in reproductive optima may generally skew mutational effects towards the more strongly sexually-selected sex due to genic capture and condition dependence.