Sexual conflict is not counterbalanced by good genes in the laboratory Drosophila melanogaster model system


Andrew D. Stewart, Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93101-9610, USA.
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Sexual conflict theory is based on the observation that females of many species are harmed through their interactions with males. Direct harm to females, however, can potentially be counterbalanced by indirect genetic benefits, where females make up for a reduction in offspring quantity by an increase in offspring quality through a generic increase in offspring fitness (good genes) and/or one restricted to the context of sexual selection (sexy sons). Here, we quantify the magnitude of the good genes mechanism of indirect benefits in a laboratory-adapted population of Drosophila melanogaster. We find that despite high-standing genetic variance for fitness, females gain at most only a modest benefit through the good genes form of indirect benefits – far too little to counterbalance the direct cost of male-induced harm.