Genetic divergence of the seminal signal—receptor system in houseflies: the footprints of sexually antagonistic coevolution?

José A. Andrés, Göran Arnqvist


To understand fully the significance of cryptic female choice, we need to focus on each of those postmating processes in females which create variance in fitness among males. Earlier studies have focused almost exclusively on the proportion of a female's eggs fertilized by different males (sperm precedence). Yet, variance in male postmating reproductive success may also arise from differences in ability to stimulate female oviposition and to delay female remating. Here, we present a series of reciprocal mating experiments among genetically differentiated wild-type strains of the housefly Musca domestica. We compared the effects of male and female genotype on oviposition and remating by females. The genotype of each sex affected both female oviposition and remating rates, demonstrating that the signal-receptor system involved has indeed diverged among these strains. Further, there was a significant interaction between the effects of male and female genotype on oviposition rate. We discuss ways in which the pattern of such interactions provides insights into the coevolutionary mechanism involved. Females in our experiments generally exhibited the weakest, rather than the strongest, response to males with which they are coevolved. These results support the hypothesis that coevolution of male seminal signals and female receptors is sexually antagonistic.

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