Sexy sons from re-mating do not recoup the direct costs of harmful male interactions in the Drosophila melanogaster laboratory model system

Authors


William R. Rice, Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106-9610, USA.
Tel.: +1-805-8935793, fax: +1-805-8934724;
e-mail: rice@lifesci.ucsb.edu

Abstract

The empirical foundation for sexual conflict theory is the data from many different taxa demonstrating that females are harmed while interacting with males. However, the interpretation of this keystone evidence has been challenged because females may more than counterbalance the direct costs of interacting with males by the indirect benefits of obtaining higher quality genes for their offspring. A quantification of this trade-off is critical to resolve the controversy and is presented here. A multi-generation fitness assay in the Drosophila melanogaster laboratory model system was used to quantify both the direct costs to females due to interactions with males and indirect benefits via sexy sons. We specifically focus on the interactions that occur between males and nonvirgin females. In the laboratory environment of our base population, females mate soon after eclosion and store sufficient sperm for their entire lifetime, yet males persistently court these nonvirgin females and frequently succeed in re-mating them. Females may benefit from these interactions despite direct costs to their lifetime fecundity if re-mating allows them to trade-up to mates of higher genetic quality and thereby secure indirect benefits for their offspring. We found that direct costs of interactions between males and nonvirgin females substantially exceeded indirect benefits through sexy sons. These data, in combination with past studies of the good genes route of indirect benefits, demonstrate that inter-sexual interactions drive sexually antagonistic co-evolution in this model system.

Ancillary