A sexually selected male weapon characterized by strong additive genetic variance and no evidence for sexually antagonistic polyphenic maintenance

Jonathan M. Parrett, Aleksandra Łukasiewicz, Sebastian Chmielewski, Agnieszka Szubert-Kruszyńska, Paul L. Maurizio, Karl Grieshop, Jacek Radwan

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Sexual selection and sexual antagonism are important drivers of eco-evolutionary processes. The evolution of traits shaped by these processes depends on their genetic architecture, which remains poorly studied. Here, implementing a quantitative genetics approach using diallel crosses of the bulb mite, Rhizoglyphus robini, we investigated the genetic variance that underlies a sexually selected weapon that is dimorphic among males and female fecundity. Previous studies indicated that a negative genetic correlation between these two traits likely exists. We found male morph showed considerable additive genetic variance, which is unlikely to be explained solely by mutation-selection balance, indicating the likely presence of large-effect loci. However, a significant magnitude of inbreeding depression also indicates that morph expression is likely to be condition-dependent to some degree and that deleterious recessives can simultaneously contribute to morph expression. Female fecundity also showed a high degree of inbreeding depression, but the variance in female fecundity was mostly explained by epistatic effects, with very little contribution from additive effects. We found no significant genetic correlation, nor any evidence for dominance reversal, between male morph and female fecundity. The complex genetic architecture underlying male morph and female fecundity in this system has important implications for our understanding of the evolutionary interplay between purifying selection and sexually antagonistic selection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1289-1302
Number of pages14
Issue number6
Early online date27 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023


  • condition-dependence
  • diallel
  • dimorphism
  • dominance reversal
  • genetic architecture
  • quantitative genetics

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