Accumulation of deleterious mutations near sexually antagonistic genes

Tim Connallon, Crispin Y. Jordan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Mutation generates a steady supply of genetic variation that, while occasionally useful for adaptation, is more often deleterious for fitness. Recent research has emphasized that the fitness effects of mutations often differ between the sexes, leading to important evolutionary consequences for the maintenance of genetic variation and long-term population viability. Some forms of sex-specific selection- i.e., stronger purifying selection in males than females-can help purge a population's load of female-harming mutations and promote population growth. Other scenarios-e.g., sexually antagonistic selection, in which mutations that harm females are beneficial for males-inflate genetic loads and potentially dampen population viability. Evolutionary processes of sexual antagonism and purifying selection are likely to impact the evolutionary dynamics of different loci within a genome, yet theory has mostly ignored the potential for interactions between such loci to jointly shape the evolutionary genetic basis of female and male fitness variation. Here, we show that sexually antagonistic selection at a locus tends to elevate the frequencies of deleterious alleles at tightly linked loci that evolve under purifying selection. Moreover, haplotypes that segregate for different sexually antagonistic alleles accumulate different types of deleterious mutations. Haplotypes that carry female-benefit sexually antagonistic alleles preferentially accumulate mutations that are primarily male harming, whereas male-benefit haplotypes accumulate mutations that are primarily female harming. The theory predicts that sexually antagonistic selection should shape the genomic organization of genetic variation that differentially impacts female and male fitness, and contribute to sexual dimorphism in the genetic basis of fitness variation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2273-2284
Number of pages12
JournalG3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2016


  • Genetic load
  • Haploid selection
  • Intralocus sexual conflict
  • Linkage disequilibrium
  • Recombination

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