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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2001 Feb 13;98(4):1671-5. Epub 2001 Jan 30.

Negative genetic correlation for adult fitness between sexes reveals ontogenetic conflict in Drosophila.

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Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106-9610, USA.


Because of their distinctive roles in reproduction, females and males are selected toward different optimal phenotypes. Ontogenetic conflict between the sexes arises when homologous traits are selected in different directions. The evolution of sexual dimorphism by sex-limited gene expression alleviates this problem. However, because the majority of genes are not sex-limited, the potential for substantial conflict may remain. Here we assess the degree of ontogenetic conflict in the fruit-fly, Drosophila melanogaster, by cloning 40 haploid genomes and measuring their Darwinian fitness in both sexes. The intersexual genetic correlations for juvenile viability, adult reproductive success, and total fitness were used to gauge potential conflict during development. First, as juveniles, where the fitness objectives of the two sexes appear to be similar, survival was strongly positively correlated across sexes. Second, after adult maturation, where gender roles diverge, a significant negative correlation for reproductive success was found. Finally, because of counterbalancing correlations in the juvenile and adult components, no intersexual correlation for total fitness was found. Highly significant genotype-by-gender interaction variance was measured for both adult and total fitness. These results demonstrate strong intersexual discord during development because of the expression of sexually antagonistic variation.

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