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Title: Increased male investment in sperm competition results in reduced maintenance of gametes
Author(s): Koppik, Mareike
Baur, Julian
Berger, David
Issue Date: 2023
Type: Article
Language: English
Abstract: Male animals often show higher mutation rates than their female conspecifics. A hypothesis for this male bias is that competition over fertilization of female gametes leads to increased male investment into reproduction at the expense of maintenance and repair, resulting in a trade-off between male success in sperm competition and offspring quality. Here, we provide evidence for this hypothesis by harnessing the power of experimental evolution to study effects of sexual selection on the male germline in the seed beetle Callosobruchus maculatus. We first show that 50 generations of evolution under strong sexual selection, coupled with experimental removal of natural selection, resulted in males that are more successful in sperm competition. We then show that these males produce progeny of lower quality if engaging in sociosexual interactions prior to being challenged to surveil and repair experimentally induced damage in their germline and that the presence of male competitors alone can be enough to elicit this response. We identify 18 candidate genes that showed differential expression in response to the induced germline damage, with several of these previously implicated in processes associated with DNA repair and cellular maintenance. These genes also showed significant expression changes across sociosexual treatments of fathers and predicted the reduction in quality of their offspring, with expression of one gene also being strongly correlated to male sperm competition success. Sex differences in expression of the same 18 genes indicate a substantially higher female investment in germline maintenance. While more work is needed to detail the exact molecular underpinnings of our results, our findings provide rare experimental evidence for a trade-off between male success in sperm competition and germline maintenance. This suggests that sex differences in the relative strengths of sexual and natural selection are causally linked to male mutation bias. The tenet advocated here, that the allocation decisions of an individual can affect plasticity of its germline and the resulting genetic quality of subsequent generations, has several interesting implications for mate choice processes.
Open Access: Open access publication
License: (CC BY 4.0) Creative Commons Attribution 4.0(CC BY 4.0) Creative Commons Attribution 4.0
Journal Title: PLoS biology
Publisher: PLoS
Publisher Place: Lawrence, KS
Volume: 21
Issue: 4
Original Publication: 10.1371/journal.pbio.3002049
Page Start: 1
Page End: 25
Appears in Collections:Open Access Publikationen der MLU

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