Sexual selection on spontaneous mutations strengthens the between-sex genetic correlation for fitness

Scott L. Allen, Katrina McGuigan, Tim Connallon, Mark W. Blows, Stephen F. Chenoweth

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8 Citations (Scopus)


A proposed benefit to sexual selection is that it promotes purging of deleterious mutations from populations. For this benefit to be realized, sexual selection, which is usually stronger on males, must purge mutations deleterious to both sexes. Here, we experimentally test the hypothesis that sexual selection on males purges deleterious mutations that affect both male and female fitness. We measured male and female fitness in two panels of spontaneous mutation-accumulation lines of the fly, Drosophila serrata, each established from a common ancestor. One panel of mutation accumulation lines limited both natural and sexual selection (LS lines), whereas the other panel limited natural selection, but allowed sexual selection to operate (SS lines). Although mutation accumulation caused a significant reduction in male and female fitness in both the LS and SS lines, sexual selection had no detectable effect on the extent of the fitness reduction. Similarly, despite evidence of mutational variance for fitness in males and females of both treatments, sexual selection had no significant impact on the amount of mutational genetic variance for fitness. However, sexual selection did reshape the between-sex correlation for fitness: significantly strengthening it in the SS lines. After 25 generations, the between-sex correlation for fitness was positive but considerably less than one in the LS lines, suggesting that, although most mutations had sexually concordant fitness effects, sex-limited, and/or sex-biased mutations contributed substantially to the mutational variance. In the SS lines this correlation was strong and could not be distinguished from unity. Individual-based simulations that mimick the experimental setup reveal two conditions that may drive our results: (1) a modest-to-large fraction of mutations have sex-limited (or highly sex-biased) fitness effects, and (2) the average fitness effect of sex-limited mutations is larger than the average fitness effect of mutations that affect both sexes similarly.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2398-2409
Number of pages12
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2017


  • mutation accumulation
  • Mutation load
  • sexual antagonism
  • sexual reproduction

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