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Am Nat. 2008 Dec;172(6):806-17. doi: 10.1086/592999.

Testing the viviparity-driven-conflict hypothesis: parent-offspring conflict and the evolution of reproductive isolation in a poeciliid fish.

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Department of Biological Science, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida 32306, USA.


The evolution of viviparity increases the potential for genomic conflicts between mothers and offspring over the level of maternal investment. The viviparity-driven-conflict hypothesis predicts that such conflicts will drive the evolution of asymmetrical reproductive isolation between populations with divergent mating systems. We tested this hypothesis using crosses between populations of a poeciliid fish that differ in their level of polyandry. Our results support the prediction of an asymmetry in the rate of spontaneous abortion in reciprocal crosses, with the highest rate occurring in crosses between females from a relatively monandrous population and males from a relatively polyandrous population. The patterns of offspring size were not consistent with the pattern predicted by the viviparity-driven-conflict hypothesis: crosses between a monandrous female and a polyandrous male did not produce larger offspring than the reciprocal cross. This discrepancy was due to the presence of an effect of the maternal population on offspring size: polyandrous females produced larger offspring than monandrous females. In addition, offspring size was positively correlated with maternal size in crosses involving a polyandrous male. We discuss these results in light of models for intra- and intergenomic epistasis and the rapid origin of asymmetric reproductive isolation in viviparous taxa.

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