Strong sexual selection in males against a mutation load that reduces offspring production in seed beetles

K. Grieshop, J. Stångberg, I. Martinossi-Allibert, G. Arnqvist, D. Berger

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35 Citations (Scopus)


Theory predicts that sexual reproduction can increase population viability relative to asexual reproduction by allowing sexual selection in males to remove deleterious mutations from the population without large demographic costs. This requires that selection acts more strongly in males than females and that mutations affecting male reproductive success have pleiotropic effects on population productivity, but empirical support for these assumptions is mixed. We used the seed beetle Callosobruchus maculatus to implement a three-generation breeding design where we induced mutations via ionizing radiation (IR) in the F0 generation and measured mutational effects (relative to nonirradiated controls) on an estimate of population productivity in the F1 and effects on sex-specific competitive lifetime reproductive success (LRS) in the F2 . Regardless of whether mutations were induced via F0 males or females, they had strong negative effects on male LRS, but a nonsignificant influence on female LRS, suggesting that selection is more efficient in removing deleterious alleles in males. Moreover, mutations had seemingly shared effects on population productivity and competitive LRS in both sexes. Thus, our results lend support to the hypothesis that strong sexual selection on males can act to remove the mutation load on population viability, thereby offering a benefit to sexual reproduction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1201-1210
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Evolutionary Biology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2016


  • adaptation
  • genetic correlation
  • intralocus sexual conflict
  • pleiotropy
  • population viability
  • sexual antagonism
  • sexual selection

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