Research Group Space
paco.garcia[at]ebd.csic.es

Heritability

Publications filtered by: Heritability

Lifetime changes in phenotypic expression and evolutionary potential of female mating traits in Drosophila melanogaster
Travers, L. M., Simmons, L. W. & Garcia-Gonzalez, F. 2016 Lifetime changes in phenotypic expression and evolutionary potential of female mating traits in Drosophila melanogaster Animal Behaviour, 121: 147-155
Abstract

Recognition of the ubiquity of female multiple mating has evoked an important shift in sexual selection research, emphasising the adaptive nature of female mating strategies. While phenotypic changes in female mating traits have been previously studied, little is known about the genetic basis of female mating behaviour and its potential to respond to selection at different stages throughout an individual’s life. Using a large quantitative genetic breeding design, we observed lifetime female mating behaviour in Drosophila melanogaster to examine the effect of female age and mating history on three key mating traits: courtship latency, mating latency and copula duration. Courtship latency (time until males initiate courtship) decreased with the cumulative number of females’ previous matings. Mating latency (defined here as the time between the beginning of courtship and the start of copulation) increased with female age, and copula duration was found to decrease as females aged. We calculated quantitative genetic estimates for mating traits in virgin females and at the females’ third mating to examine changes in the evolutionary potential of mating traits. We found considerable additive genetic variation in courtship latency and mating latency measured in virgin females. Copula duration displayed no heritable variation among females across sire families, but male effects were consistent with the idea that this trait is under male control. Heritability estimates differed significantly from zero in virgin females for courtship latency and mating latency. Heritability estimates did not differ significantly from zero when females were mating for the third time. However, overlapping 84% confidence intervals between heritability estimates obtained from virgin and mated females suggest that female mating strategies may have the potential to respond to selection at these different life stages.

Genetic variation but weak genetic covariation between pre- and postcopulatory episodes of sexual selection in Drosophila melanogaster
Travers, L. M., Garcia-Gonzalez, F. & Simmons, L. W. 2016 Genetic variation but weak genetic covariation between pre- and postcopulatory episodes of sexual selection in Drosophila melanogaster Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 29: 1535-1552
Additive genetic variance in polyandry enables its evolution but polyandry is unlikely to evolve through sexy or good sperm processes
Travers, L. M., Simmons, L. W. & Garcia-Gonzalez, F. 2016 Additive genetic variance in polyandry enables its evolution but polyandry is unlikely to evolve through sexy or good sperm processes Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 29: 916-928.
Abstract

Polyandry is widespread despite its costs. The sexually selected sperm hypotheses (‘sexy’ and ‘good’ sperm) posit that sperm competition plays a role in the evolution of polyandry. Two poorly studied assumptions of these hypotheses are the presence of additive genetic variance in polyandry and sperm competitiveness. Using a quantitative genetic breeding design in a natural population of Drosophila melanogaster, we first established the potential for polyandry to respond to selection. We then investigated whether polyandry can evolve through sexually selected sperm processes. We measured lifetime polyandry and offensive sperm competitiveness (P2) while controlling for sampling variance due to male x male x female interactions. We also measured additive genetic variance in egg-to-adult viability and controlled for its effect on P2 estimates. Female lifetime polyandry showed significant and substantial additive genetic variance and evolvability. In contrast, we found little genetic variance or evolvability in P2 or egg-to-adult viability. Additive genetic variance in polyandry highlights its potential to respond to selection. However, the low levels of genetic variance in sperm competitiveness suggest the evolution of polyandry may not be driven by sexy sperm or good sperm processes.

Travers, L. M., Garcia-Gonzalez, F. & Simmons, L. W. 2015 Live fast die young life history in females: evolutionary trade-off between early life mating and lifespan in female Drosophila melanogaster Scientific Reports, 5: 15469
Abstract

The trade-off between survival and reproduction is fundamental to life history theory. Sexual selection is expected to favour a live fast die young life history pattern in males due to increased risk of extrinsic mortality associated with obtaining mates. Sexual conflict may also drive a genetic trade-off between reproduction and lifespan in females. We found significant additive genetic variance in longevity independent of lifetime mating frequency, and in early life mating frequency. There was significant negative genetic covariance between these traits indicating that females from families characterized by high levels of multiple mating early in life die sooner than females that engage in less intense early life mating.  Thus, despite heritable variation in both traits, their independent evolution is constrained by an evolutionary trade-off. Our findings indicate that, in addition to the well-known male-driven direct costs of mating on female lifespan (mediated by male harassment and the harmful effects of male seminal fluids), females with a genetic propensity to mate multiply live shorter lives. We discuss the potential role of sexual conflict in driving the evolutionary trade-off between reproduction and lifespan in Drosophila. More generally, our data show that, like males, females can exhibit a live fast die young life history strategy.

Experimental coevolution of male and female genital morphology
Simmons L. W. & Garcia-Gonzalez, F. 2011 Experimental coevolution of male and female genital morphology Nature Communications, 2:374
Abstract
Male genitalia typically exhibit patterns of rapid and divergent evolution, and there is now considerable evidence that sexual selection is an important driver of these patterns of phenotypic variation. Female genitalia have been less well studied, and are generally thought to be relatively invariant. Here we use experimental evolution to show that sexual selection drives the correlated evolution of female and male genital morphology in the scarabaeine dung beetle Onthophagus taurus. Moreover, we use quantitative genetic analyses to provide a rare insight into the genetic architecture underlying morphological variation in female genital morphology, and uncover evidence of the genetic covariation with male genital morphology that is expected to arise under persistent sexual selection.
Fertilization success and the estimation of genetic variance in sperm competitiveness
Garcia-Gonzalez, F. & Evans, J. P. 2011 Fertilization success and the estimation of genetic variance in sperm competitiveness Evolution, 65: 746-756
Abstract
A key question in sexual selection is whether the ability of males to fertilize eggs under sperm competition exhibits heritable genetic variation. Addressing this question poses a significant problem, however, because a male’s ability to win fertilizations ultimately depends on the competitive ability of rival males. Attempts to partition genetic variance in sperm competitiveness, as estimated from measures of fertilization success, must therefore account for stochastic effects due to the random sampling of rival sperm competitors. In this contribution, we suggest a practical solution to this problem. We advocate the use of simple crossclassified breeding designs for partitioning sources of genetic variance in sperm competitiveness and fertilization success and show how these designs can be used to avoid stochastic effects due to the random sampling of rival sperm competitors. We illustrate the utility of these approaches by simulating various scenarios for estimating genetic parameters in sperm competiveness, and show that the probability of detecting additive genetic variance in this trait is restored when stochastic effects due to the random sampling of rival sperm competitors are controlled. Our findings have important implications for the study of the evolutionary maintenance of polyandry.
Good genes and sexual selection in dung beetles (Onthophagus taurus): Genetic variance in egg-to-adult and adult viability
Garcia-Gonzalez, F. & Simmons, L. W. 2011 Good genes and sexual selection in dung beetles (Onthophagus taurus): Genetic variance in egg-to-adult and adult viability PLoS ONE, 6:e16233
Abstract
Whether species exhibit significant heritable variation in fitness is central for sexual selection. According to good genes models there must be genetic variation in males leading to variation in offspring fitness if females are to obtain genetic benefits from exercising mate preferences, or by mating multiply. However, sexual selection based on genetic benefits is controversial, and there is limited unambiguous support for the notion that choosy or polyandrous females can increase the chances of producing offspring with high viability. Here we examine the levels of additive genetic variance in two fitness components in the dung beetle Onthophagus taurus. We found significant sire effects on egg-to-adult viability and on son, but not daughter, survival to sexual maturity, as well as moderate coefficients of additive variance in these traits. Moreover, we do not find evidence for sexual antagonism influencing genetic variation for fitness. Our results are consistent with good genes sexual selection, and suggest that both pre- and postcopulatory mate choice, and male competition could provide indirect benefits to females.
Seen one seen them all? More to genitalia than meets the eye
Simmons, L. W. & Garcia-Gonzalez, F. 2011 Seen one seen them all? More to genitalia than meets the eye The Conversation
The relative nature of fertilization success: implications for the study of post-copulatory sexual selection
Garcia-Gonzalez, F. 2008 The relative nature of fertilization success: implications for the study of post-copulatory sexual selection BMC Evolutionary Biology, 8:140
Abstract
Background: The determination of genetic variation in sperm competitive ability is fundamental to distinguish between post-copulatory sexual selection models based on good-genes vs compatible genes. The sexy-sperm and the good-sperm hypotheses for the evolution of polyandry require additive (intrinsic) effects of genes influencing sperm competitiveness, whereas the genetic incompatibility hypothesis invokes non-additive genetic effects. A male's sperm competitive ability is typically estimated from his fertilization success, a measure that is dependent on the ability of rival sperm competitors to fertilize the ova. It is well known that fertilization success may be conditional to genotypic interactions among males as well as between males and females. However, the consequences of effects arising from the random sampling of sperm competitors upon the estimation of genetic variance in sperm competitiveness have been overlooked. Here I perform simulations of mating trials performed in the context of sibling analysis to investigate whether the ability to detect additive genetic variance underlying the sperm competitiveness phenotype is hindered by the relative nature of fertilization success measurements. Results: Fertilization success values render biased sperm competitive ability values. Furthermore, asymmetries among males in the errors committed when estimating sperm competitive abilities are likely to exist as long as males exhibit variation in sperm competitiveness. Critically, random effects arising from the relative nature of fertilization success lead to an underestimation of underlying additive genetic variance in sperm competitive ability. Conclusion: The results show that, regardless of the existence of genotypic interactions affecting the output of sperm competition, fertilization success is not a perfect predictor of sperm competitive ability because of the stochasticity of the background used to obtain fertilization success measures. Random effects need to be considered in the debate over the maintenance of genetic variation in sperm competitiveness, and when testing good-genes and compatible-genes processes as explanations of polyandrous behaviour using repeatability/heritability data in sperm competitive ability. These findings support the notion that the genetic incompatibility hypothesis needs to be treated as an alternative hypothesis, rather than a null hypothesis, in studies that fail to detect intrinsic sire effects on the sperm competitiveness phenotype.
The evolution of polyandry: intrinsic sire effects contribute to embryo viability
Garcia-Gonzalez, F. & Simmons, L. W. 2005 The evolution of polyandry: intrinsic sire effects contribute to embryo viability Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 18:1097-1103
Abstract
Females typically mate with more than one male despite the costs incurred, thus questioning Bateman’s principle. A series of genetic benefits have been proposed to account for the evolution of polyandry, including the acquisition of viability genes for offspring. The ‘intrinsic male quality’ hypothesis suggests that polyandry increases the probability that females produce offspring sired by males that bestow high viability on their offspring. Heritable variation in viability is the basic requirement for the occurrence of this genetic benefit. By using a half-sib breeding design with a species of cricket in which polyandry is known to increase hatching success, we present clear experimental evidence that intrinsic male quality contributes to embryo viability. Despite recent support for the evolution of polyandry based on compatibility of genotypes between males and females, we show that hatching success is not determined by an interaction between paternal and maternal genotypes but rather that sons inherit paternal genes that influence the viability of eggs laid by their mates. Moreover, our data implicate a potential role for indirect genetic effects of male accessory gland products on embryo viability. Additive genetic contributions to embryo viability may be an important factor underlying the frequently observed benefits of polyandrous behaviour.

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