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Keywords:

  • Cryptic female choice;
  • good genes;
  • intralocus sexual conflict;
  • X chromosome

Genetic variation can be beneficial to one sex yet harmful when expressed in the other—a condition referred to as sexual antagonism. Because X chromosomes are transmitted from fathers to daughters, and sexually antagonistic fitness variation is predicted to often be X-linked, mates of relatively low-fitness males might produce high-fitness daughters whereas mates of high-fitness males produce low-fitness daughters. Such fitness consequences have been predicted to influence the evolution of female mating biases and the offspring sex ratio. Females might evolve to prefer mates that provide good genes for daughters or might adjust offspring sex ratios in favor of the sex with the highest relative fitness. We test these possibilities in a laboratory-adapted population of Drosophila melanogaster, and find that females preferentially mate with males carrying genes that are deleterious for daughters. Preferred males produce equal numbers of sons and daughters, whereas unpreferred males produce female-biased sex ratios. As a consequence, mean offspring fitness of unpreferred males is higher than offspring fitness of preferred males. This observation has several interesting implications for sexual selection and the maintenance of population genetic variation for fitness.