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Keywords:

  • adaptive evolution;
  • Callosobruchus maculatus;
  • mitochondria;
  • mtDNA;
  • seed beetles;
  • sexual selection;
  • sperm competition

Abstract

It is widely assumed that male sperm competitiveness evolves adaptively. However, recent studies have found a cytoplasmic genetic component to phenotypic variation in some sperm traits presumed important in sperm competition. As cytoplasmic genes are maternally transmitted, they cannot respond to selection on sperm and this constraint may affect the scope in which sperm competitiveness can evolve adaptively. We examined nuclear and cytoplasmic genetic contributions to sperm competitiveness, using populations of Callosobruchus maculatus carrying orthogonal combinations of nuclear and cytoplasmic lineages. Our design also enabled us to examine genetic contributions to female remating. We found that sperm competitiveness and remating are primarily encoded by nuclear genes. In particular, a male’s sperm competitiveness phenotype was contingent on an interaction between the competing male genotypes. Furthermore, cytoplasmic effects were detected on remating but not sperm competitiveness, suggesting that cytoplasmic genes do not generally play a profound evolutionary role in sperm competition.