Send to

Choose Destination
Evolution. 2011 Oct;65(10):2872-80. doi: 10.1111/j.1558-5646.2011.01350.x. Epub 2011 Jun 13.

Elimination of a genetic correlation between the sexes via artificial correlational selection.

Author information

Department of Biology, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana 47405, USA.


Genetic correlations between the sexes can constrain the evolution of sexual dimorphism and be difficult to alter, because traits common to both sexes share the same genetic underpinnings. We tested whether artificial correlational selection favoring specific combinations of male and female traits within families could change the strength of a very high between-sex genetic correlation for flower size in the dioecious plant Silene latifolia. This novel selection dramatically reduced the correlation in two of three selection lines in fewer than five generations. Subsequent selection only on females in a line characterized by a lower between-sex genetic correlation led to a significantly lower correlated response in males, confirming the potential evolutionary impact of the reduced correlation. Although between-sex genetic correlations can potentially constrain the evolution of sexual dimorphism, our findings reveal that these constraints come not from a simple conflict between an inflexible genetic architecture and a pattern of selection working in opposition to it, but rather a complex relationship between a changeable correlation and a form of selection that promotes it. In other words, the form of selection on males and females that leads to sexual dimorphism may also promote the genetic phenomenon that limits sexual dimorphism.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center