INTERACTIONS BETWEEN GENOTYPE AND SEXUAL CONFLICT ENVIRONMENT INFLUENCE TRANSGENERATIONAL FITNESS IN DROSOPHILA MELANOGASTER

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Abstract

Theory predicts that sexual conflict can fuel evolutionary change and generate substantial reproductive costs. This was tested here by measuring the fitness of focal individuals across multiple generations using an experimental framework. We manipulated sexual conflict through high versus low exposure of females to males across a four-generation pedigree of Drosophila melanogaster, and assessed fitness in 1062 females and 639 males. We used the animal model to estimate (1) genotype by sexual conflict environment interactions for female fitness and (2) indirect benefits gained through sons and daughters. Some female genotypes achieved higher fitness under low, in comparison to high, conflict and vice versa. We found a consistent 10% reduction in female fitness under high conflict, regardless of maternal history. Following high exposure, females produced sons with increased, but grandsons with decreased, fitness. This opposing effect suggests no consistent fitness gains through sons for females that mated multiply. We saw no indirect benefits through daughters. Our pedigree was based exclusively on maternal links; however, maternal effects are unlikely to contribute significantly unless expressed across multiple generations. In sum, we quantified a significant sexual conflict load and a female genotype by sexual conflict interaction that could slow the erosion of genetic variation.

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