• Antagonistic pleiotropy;
  • balancing selection;
  • genetic trade-off;
  • life-history trait;
  • mutation-selection balance;
  • standing variation;
  • Tetranychus urticae;
  • Wolbachia

Despite the directional selection acting on life-history traits, substantial amounts of standing variation for these traits have frequently been found. This variation may result from balancing selection (e.g., through genetic trade-offs) or from mutation-selection balance. These mechanisms affect allele frequencies in different ways: Under balancing selection alleles are maintained at intermediate frequencies, whereas under mutation-selection balance variation is generated by deleterious mutations and removed by directional selection, which leads to asymmetry in the distribution of allele frequencies. To investigate the importance of these two mechanisms in maintaining heritable variation in oviposition rate of the two-spotted spider mite, we analyzed the response to artificial selection. In three replicate experiments, we selected for higher and lower oviposition rate, compared to control lines. A response to selection only occurred in the downward direction. Selection for lower oviposition rate did not lead to an increase in any other component of fitness, but led to a decline in female juvenile survival. The results suggest standing variation for oviposition rate in this population consists largely of deleterious alleles, as in a mutation-selection balance. Consequently, the standing variation for this trait does not appear to be indicative of its adaptive potential.