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Nature. 2015 Dec 17;528(7582):405-8. doi: 10.1038/nature16062. Epub 2015 Nov 4.

Sex-dependent dominance at a single locus maintains variation in age at maturity in salmon.

Author information

1
Centre for Integrative Genetics (CIGENE), Department of Animal and Aquacultural Sciences, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, NO-1432 Ås, Norway.
2
Department of Biology, University of Turku, FI-20014, Finland.
3
Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA), NO-7485 Trondheim, Norway.
4
Nofima - Norwegian Institute of Food, Fisheries and Aquaculture Research, NO-1431 Ås, Norway.
5
Institute of Evolutionary Biology, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH9 3FL, UK.
6
AquaGen, NO-7462 Trondheim, Norway.
7
Natural Resources Institute Finland, Oulu, FI-90014, Finland.
8
Radgivende Biologer, NO-5003 Bergen, Norway.

Abstract

Males and females share many traits that have a common genetic basis; however, selection on these traits often differs between the sexes, leading to sexual conflict. Under such sexual antagonism, theory predicts the evolution of genetic architectures that resolve this sexual conflict. Yet, despite intense theoretical and empirical interest, the specific loci underlying sexually antagonistic phenotypes have rarely been identified, limiting our understanding of how sexual conflict impacts genome evolution and the maintenance of genetic diversity. Here we identify a large effect locus controlling age at maturity in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), an important fitness trait in which selection favours earlier maturation in males than females, and show it is a clear example of sex-dependent dominance that reduces intralocus sexual conflict and maintains adaptive variation in wild populations. Using high-density single nucleotide polymorphism data across 57 wild populations and whole genome re-sequencing, we find that the vestigial-like family member 3 gene (VGLL3) exhibits sex-dependent dominance in salmon, promoting earlier and later maturation in males and females, respectively. VGLL3, an adiposity regulator associated with size and age at maturity in humans, explained 39% of phenotypic variation, an unexpectedly large proportion for what is usually considered a highly polygenic trait. Such large effects are predicted under balancing selection from either sexually antagonistic or spatially varying selection. Our results provide the first empirical example of dominance reversal allowing greater optimization of phenotypes within each sex, contributing to the resolution of sexual conflict in a major and widespread evolutionary trade-off between age and size at maturity. They also provide key empirical evidence for how variation in reproductive strategies can be maintained over large geographical scales. We anticipate these findings will have a substantial impact on population management in a range of harvested species where trends towards earlier maturation have been observed.

PMID:
26536110
DOI:
10.1038/nature16062
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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