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Science. 2008 Nov 21;322(5905):1241-3. doi: 10.1126/science.1163766.

Selfish genetic elements promote polyandry in a fly.

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  • 1School of Biosciences, University of Exeter, Cornwall Campus, Penryn TR10 9EZ, UK.

Abstract

It is unknown why females mate with multiple males when mating is frequently costly and a single copulation often provides enough sperm to fertilize all a female's eggs. One possibility is that remating increases the fitness of offspring, because fertilization success is biased toward the sperm of high-fitness males. We show that female Drosophila pseudoobscura evolved increased remating rates when exposed to the risk of mating with males carrying a deleterious sex ratio-distorting gene that also reduces sperm competitive ability. Because selfish genetic elements that reduce sperm competitive ability are generally associated with low genetic fitness, they may represent a common driver of the evolution of polyandry.

PMID:
19023079
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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