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Proc Biol Sci. Mar 7, 2002; 269(1490): 499–505.
PMCID: PMC1690921

The X chromosome is a hot spot for sexually antagonistic fitness variation.


Sexually antagonistic alleles are selected discordantly between the sexes. Experimental evidence indicates that sexually antagonistic fitness variation is abundant in the genome of Drosophila melanogaster. Theory predicts that the X chromosome will be enriched with this type of variation. To test this prediction in D. melanogaster, we sampled, and cytogenetically cloned, 20 X chromosomes and compared their fitness variation to genome-wide levels. At the juvenile stage, in which gender roles are most similar, the X chromosome made no detectable contribution to genome-wide fitness variation. At the adult stage, in which gender roles diverge, the X chromosome was estimated to harbour 45% of the genome-wide fitness variation and 97% of the genome-wide sexually antagonistic variation. This genomic structure has important implications for the process of sexual selection because X-linked sexually antagonistic variation contributes to negative intersexual heritability for fitness, i.e. high-fitness males (females) produce, on average, low-fitness daughters (sons).

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Selected References

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