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Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2013 Jan 21;368(1613):20120047. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2012.0047. Print 2013 Mar 5.

Polyandry and sex-specific gene expression.

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Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment, University College London, The Darwin Building, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, UK.


Polyandry is widespread in nature, and has important evolutionary consequences for the evolution of sexual dimorphism and sexual conflict. Although many of the phenotypic consequences of polyandry have been elucidated, our understanding of the impacts of polyandry and mating systems on the genome is in its infancy. Polyandry can intensify selection on sexual characters and generate more intense sexual conflict. This has consequences for sequence evolution, but also for sex-biased gene expression, which acts as a link between mating systems, sex-specific selection and the evolution of sexual dimorphism. We discuss this and the remarkable confluence of sexual-conflict theory and patterns of gene expression, while also making predictions about transcription patterns, mating systems and sexual conflict. Gene expression is a key link in the genotype-phenotype chain, and although in its early stages, understanding the sexual selection-transcription relationship will provide significant insights into this critical association.

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