Direct and indirect effects of male genital elaboration in female seed beetles

Göran Arnqvist, Karl Grieshop, Cosima Hotzy, Johanna Rönn, Michal Polak, Locke Rowe

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2 Citations (Scopus)


Our understanding of coevolution between male genitalia and female traits remains incomplete. This is perhaps especially true for genital traits that cause internal injuries in females, such as the spiny genitalia of seed beetles where males with relatively long spines enjoy a high relative fertilization success. We report on a new set of experiments, based on extant selection lines, aimed at assessing the effects of long male spines on females in Callosobruchus maculatus. We first draw on an earlier study using microscale laser surgery, and demonstrate that genital spines have a direct negative (sexually antagonistic) effect on female fecundity. We then ask whether artificial selection for long versus short spines resulted in direct or indirect effects on female lifetime offspring production. Reference females mating with males from long-spine lines had higher offspring production, presumably due to an elevated allocation in males to those ejaculate components that are beneficial to females. Remarkably, selection for long male genital spines also resulted in an evolutionary increase in female offspring production as a correlated response. Our findings thus suggest that female traits that affect their response to male spines are both under direct selection to minimize harm but are also under indirect selection (a good genes effect), consistent with the evolution of mating and fertilization biases being affected by several simultaneous processes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20211068
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1954
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jul 2021


  • artificial selection
  • female choice
  • genital evolution
  • good genes
  • primary sexual traits
  • sexual conflict

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