Sex-specific effects of mitochondrial haplotype on metabolic rate in Drosophila melanogaster support predictions of the Mother's Curse hypothesis

Venkatesh Nagarajan Radha, Ian Aitkenhead, David Clancy, Steven L Chown, Damian K Dowling

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Abstract

Evolutionary theory proposes that maternal inheritance of mitochondria will facilitate the accumulation of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) mutations that are harmful to males but benign or beneficial to females. Furthermore, mtDNA haplotypes sampled from across a given species distribution are expected to differ in the number and identity of these 'male-harming' mutations they accumulate. Consequently, it is predicted that the genetic variation which delineates distinct mtDNA haplotypes of a given species should confer larger phenotypic effects on males than females (reflecting mtDNA mutations that are male-harming, but female-benign), or sexually antagonistic effects (reflecting mutations that are male-harming, but female-benefitting). These predictions have received support from recent work examining mitochondrial haplotypic effects on adult life-history traits in Drosophila melanogaster. Here, we explore whether similar signatures of male-bias or sexual antagonism extend to a key physiological trait-metabolic rate. We measured the effects of mitochondrial haplotypes on the amount of carbon dioxide produced by individual flies, controlling for mass and activity, across 13 strains of D. melanogaster that differed only in their mtDNA haplotype. The effects of mtDNA haplotype on metabolic rate were larger in males than females. Furthermore, we observed a negative intersexual correlation across the haplotypes for metabolic rate. Finally, we uncovered a male-specific negative correlation, across haplotypes, between metabolic rate and longevity. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that maternal mitochondrial inheritance has led to the accumulation of a sex-specific genetic load within the mitochondrial genome, which affects metabolic rate and that may have consequences for the evolution of sex differences in life history. This article is part of the theme issue 'Linking the mitochondrial genotype to phenotype: a complex endeavour'.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20190178
Number of pages11
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Volume375
Issue number1790
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jan 2020

Keywords

  • mitochondrial DNA
  • pleiotropy
  • rate of living
  • sex specific selective sieve
  • sexual conflict
  • sexually antagonistic selection

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