Parasites impose strong selection on hosts to defend themselves, which is expected to result in trade-offs with other fitness traits such as reproduction. Here we test for genetic trade-offs between reproductive traits and immunity using Tribolium castaneum lines that were subject to experimental evolution. The lines have been exposed to contrasting sexual selection intensities via different sex ratios (female-biased, equal and male-biased). After 56 generations, the lines have significantly diverged and those experiencing high sexual selection have evolved males who are superior competitors for reproductive success, and females who are more resistant to multiple mating. All selected lines were assessed for both an immune measurement (phenoloxidase (PO) activity) and host resistance to the microsporidian Nosema whitei after two generations of relaxed selection. In contrast to our expectations we did not find any evidence for a genetic trade-off between investment in reproduction and immunity. Both PO and Nosema resistance did not differ between lines, despite their divergences in reproductive investment due to variation in sexual selection and conflict. Nevertheless, overall we found that females had higher PO activities and in the Nosema free control treatment survived longer than males, suggesting that females generally invest more in PO and survival under control conditions than males. This result fits the Bateman s principle, which states that females gain fitness through increased immunity and longevity, while males gain fitness through increased mating success.
Hangartner, S. B., Sbilordo, S. H., Michalczyk, L., Gage, M. J. G., & Martin, O. Y. (2013). Are there genetic trade-offs between immune and reproductive investments in Tribolium castaneum. Infection, Genetics and Evolution, 19, 45 - 50. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.meegid.2013.06.007