Sex-linkage is predicted to evolve in response to sex-specific or sexually antagonistic selection. In line with this prediction, most sex-linked genes are associated with reproduction in the respective sex. In addition to traits directly involved in fertility and fecundity, mediators of maternal effects may be predisposed to evolve sex-linkage, because they indirectly affect female fitness through their effect on offspring phenotype. Here, we test for sex-linked inheritance of a key mediator of prenatal maternal effects in oviparous species, the transfer of maternally derived testosterone to the eggs. Consistent with maternal inheritance, we found that in Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica) granddaughters resemble their maternal (but not their paternal) grandmother in yolk testosterone deposition. This pattern of resemblance was not due to non-genetic priming effects of testosterone exposure during prenatal development, as an experimental manipulation of yolk testosterone levels did not affect the females' testosterone transfer to their own eggs later in life. Instead, W chromosome and/or mitochondrial variation may underlie the observed matrilineal inheritance pattern. Ultimately, the inheritance of mediators of maternal effects along the maternal line will allow for a fast and direct response to female-specific selection, thereby affecting the dynamics of evolutionary processes mediated by maternal effects.
Electronic supplementary material is available online at https://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.3463905
- Received July 26, 2016.
- Accepted August 24, 2016.
- © 2016 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.