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Evolution. 2003 Sep;57(9):2012-25.

Constraints on the evolution of males and sexual dimorphism: field estimates of genetic architecture of reproductive traits in three populations of gynodioecious Fragaria virginiana.

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Department of Biological Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15260, USA.


To understand how genetic constraints may limit the evolution of males and sexual dimorphism in a gynodioecious species, I conducted a quantitative genetic experiment in a gynodioecious wild strawberry, Fragaria virginiana. I estimated and compared genetic parameters (narrow-sense heritabilities, between-trait and between-sex genetic correlations, as well as phenotypic and genetic variance-covariance matrices) in the two sex morphs from three populations grown in a common field garden. I measured pollen and ovule production per flower, petal size, fruit set, and flower number. My major findings are as follows. (1) The presence of a phenotypic trade-off between pollen production and fruit set in hermaphrodites reflects a negative genetic correlation in the narrow sense that is statistically significant when pooled across populations. (2) The main constraints on the evolution of males are low genetic variation for pollen per flower and strong positive correlations associated with ovule number (e.g., between pollen and ovules in hermaphrodites, and between ovules in hermaphrodites and females). (3) Traits with the lowest levels of sexual dimorphism (ovule number and flower number) have the highest between-sex genetic correlations suggesting that overlap in the expression of genes in the sex morphs constrains their independent evolution. (4) There are significant differences in G matrices between sex morphs but not among populations. However, evidence that male-female trait correlations in hermaphrodites were lower in populations with higher frequencies of females may indicate subtle changes in genetic architecture.

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