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J Evol Biol. 2011 May;24(5):1120-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2011.02245.x. Epub 2011 Mar 14.

Genetic differences among populations in sexual dimorphism: evidence for selection on males in a dioecious plant.

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College of Life Sciences, Wuhan University, Wuhan, China.


Genetic variation among populations in the degree of sexual dimorphism may be a consequence of selection on one or both sexes. We analysed genetic parameters from crosses involving three populations of the dioecious plant Silene latifolia, which exhibits sexual dimorphism in flower size, to determine whether population differentiation was a result of selection on one or both sexes. We took the novel approach of comparing the ratio of population differentiation of a quantitative trait (Q(ST) ) to that of neutral genetic markers (F(ST) ) for males vs. females. We attributed 72.6% of calyx width variation in males to differences among populations vs. only 6.9% in females. The Q(ST) /F(ST) ratio was 4.2 for males vs. 0.4 for females, suggesting that selection on males is responsible for differentiation among populations in calyx width and its degree of sexual dimorphism. This selection may be indirect via genetic correlations with other morphological and physiological traits.

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