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Am Nat. 2011 Oct;178(4):515-24. doi: 10.1086/661895. Epub 2011 Aug 17.

On the maintenance of sex chromosome polymorphism by sex-antagonistic selection.

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Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Lausanne, CH 1015 Lausanne, Switzerland.


Complex sex determination systems are a priori unstable and require specific selective forces for their maintenance. Analytical derivations suggest that sex antagonistic selection may play such a role, but this assumes absence of recombination between the sex-determining and sex-antagonistic genes. Using individual-based simulations and focusing on the sex chromosome and coloration polymorphisms of platy fishes as a case study, we show that the conditions for polymorphism maintenance induce female biases in primary sex ratios, so that sex ratio selection makes the system collapse toward male or female heterogamety as soon as recombinant genotypes appear. However, a polymorphism can still be maintained under scenarios comprising strong sexual selection against dull males, mild natural selection against bright females, and low recombination rates. Though such conditions are plausibly met in natural populations of fishes harboring such polymorphisms, quantitative empirical evaluations are required to properly test whether sex antagonistic selection is a causal agent or whether other selective processes are required (such as local mate competition favoring female-biased sex ratios).

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