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Keywords:

  • Mutations;
  • population genetics;
  • sexual selection

In populations with males and females, sexual selection may often represent a major component of overall selection. Sexual selection could act to eliminate deleterious alleles in concert with other forms of selection, thereby improving the fitness of sexual populations. Alternatively, the divergent reproductive strategies of the sexes could promote the maintenance of sexually antagonistic variation, causing sexual populations to be less fit. The net impact of sexual selection on fitness is not well understood, due in part to limited data on the sex-specific effects of spontaneous mutations on total fitness. Using a set of mutation accumulation lines of Drosophila melanogaster, we found that mutations were deleterious in both sexes and had larger effects on fitness in males than in females. This pattern is expected to reduce the mutation load of sexual females and promote the maintenance of sexual reproduction.