The evolution of sexual dimorphism and its potential impact on host-pathogen coevolution

Stephen A. Y. Gipson, Matthew D. Hall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Sex and infection are intimately linked. Many diseases are spread by sexual contact, males are thought to evolve exaggerated sexual signals to demonstrate their immune robustness, and pathogens have been shown to direct the evolution of recombination. In all of these examples, infection is influencing the evolution of male and female fitness, but less is known about how sex differences influence pathogen fitness. A defining characteristic of sexual dimorphism is not only divergent phenotypes, but also a complex genetic architecture involving changes in genetic correlations among shared fitness traits, and differences in the accumulation of mutations-all of which may affect selection on an invading pathogen. Here, we outline the implications that the genetics of sexual dimorphism can have for host-pathogen coevolution and argue that male-female differences influence more than just the environment that a pathogen experiences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)959-968
Number of pages10
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2016


  • Coevolution
  • Genetic correlations
  • Genotype-by-environment interactions
  • Host-pathogen interactions
  • Mutation
  • Sexual conflict
  • Sexual selection

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