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Sexual selection, germline mutation rate and sperm competition

AutorMøller, Anders Pape; Cuervo, José Javier
Palabras claveBirds
Extra-pair paternity
Minisatellites
Sex-biased mutation
Sperm
Fecha de publicación18-abr-2003
EditorBioMed Central
CitaciónBMC Evolutionary Biology 3: 6 (2003)
ResumenBackground: An important component of sexual selection arises because females obtain viability benefits for their offspring from their mate choice. Females choosing extra-pair fertilization generally favor males with exaggerated secondary sexual characters, and extra-pair paternity increases the variance in male reproductive success. Furthermore, females are assumed to benefit from 'good genes' from extra-pair sires. How additive genetic variance in such viability genes is maintained despite strong directional selection remains an evolutionary enigma. We propose that sexual selection is associated with elevated mutation rates, changing the balance between mutation and selection, thereby increasing variance in fitness and hence the benefits to be obtained from good genes sexual selection. Two hypotheses may account for such elevated mutation: (1) Increased sperm production associated with sperm competition may increase mutation rate. (2) Mutator alleles increase mutation rates that are revealed by the expression of condition-dependent secondary sexual characters used by choosy females during their mate choice. M Petrie has independently developed the idea that mutator alleles may account for the maintenance of genetic variation in viability despite strong directional selection.
Results: A comparative study of birds revealed a positive correlation between mutation rate at minisatellite loci and extra-pair paternity, but not between mutation rate and relative testes mass which is a measure of relative sperm production. Minisatellite mutation rates were not related to longevity, suggesting a meiotic rather than a mitotic origin of mutations.
Conclusion: We found evidence of increased mutation rate in species with more intense sexual selection. Increased mutation was not associated with increased sperm production, and we suggest that species with intense sexual selection may maintain elevated mutation rates because sexual selection continuously benefits viability alleles expressed in condition-dependent characters. Sexual selection may increase mutational input, which in turn feeds back on sexual selection because of increased variance in viability traits.
DescripciónReceived: 5 August 2002, Accepted:18 April 2003, Published:18 April 2003
Versión del editorhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1471-2148-3-6
URIhttp://hdl.handle.net/10261/123121
DOI10.1186/1471-2148-3-6
E-ISSN1471-2148
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