Sunday, July 15, 2012

Positive genetic correlation between female preference and offspring fitness

Hine, E., Lachish, S., Higgie, M., Blows, M.W. 2002. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. 269:2215-2219

These authors showed that female Drosophila serrata prefer extreme male cuticular hydrocarbon (CHs) blends and that this preference affects offspring fitness. Mate choice experiments were preformed using virgin females individually placed with two virgin males. After observed copulation, the males were removed and killed and prepared for gas chromatography analysis of the CHs. From these results, the authors estimated the sexual selection fitness function and linear selection gradient for the more attractive male CH blend. It was then determined if female choice affected offspring fitness with a quantitative genetics experiment. This experiment encompassed female preference, male attractiveness, and offspring fitness all in one. The authors found that female preference is positively correlated with offspring fitness, and that choosing the more attractive male results in genetic benefits. In addition, males with the highest probability of mating conferred intermediate levels of offspring fitness, indicating that female choice in under stabilizing natural selection. Even though male cuticular hydrocarbons experience strong sexual selection, the genes underlying this conferred lower offspring fitness, suggesting a balance between sexual selection and natural selection may have occurred in this population.

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