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Detrimental effects of an autosomal selfish genetic element on sperm competitiveness in house mice


Sutter, Andreas; Lindholm, Anna K (2015). Detrimental effects of an autosomal selfish genetic element on sperm competitiveness in house mice. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B: Biological Sciences, 282(1811):20150974.

Abstract

Female multiple mating (polyandry) is widespread across many animal taxa and indirect genetic benefits are a major evolutionary force favouring polyandry. An incentive for polyandry arises when multiple mating leads to sperm competition that disadvantages sperm from genetically inferior mates. A reduction in genetic quality is associated with costly selfish genetic elements (SGEs), and studies in invertebrates have shown that males bearing sex ratio distorting SGEs are worse sperm competitors than wild-type males. We used a vertebrate model species to test whether females can avoid an autosomal SGE, the t haplotype, through polyandry. The t haplotype in house mice exhibits strong drive in t heterozygous males by affecting spermatogenesis and is associated with homozygous in utero lethality. We used controlled matings to test the effect of the t haplotype on sperm competitiveness. Regardless of mating order, t heterozygous males sired only 11% of zygotes when competing against wild-type males, suggesting a very strong effect of the t haplotype on sperm quality. We provide, to our knowledge, the first substantial evidence that polyandry ameliorates the harmful effects of an autosomal SGE arising through genetic incompatibility. We discuss potential mechanisms in our study species and the broader implications for the benefits of polyandry.

Abstract

Female multiple mating (polyandry) is widespread across many animal taxa and indirect genetic benefits are a major evolutionary force favouring polyandry. An incentive for polyandry arises when multiple mating leads to sperm competition that disadvantages sperm from genetically inferior mates. A reduction in genetic quality is associated with costly selfish genetic elements (SGEs), and studies in invertebrates have shown that males bearing sex ratio distorting SGEs are worse sperm competitors than wild-type males. We used a vertebrate model species to test whether females can avoid an autosomal SGE, the t haplotype, through polyandry. The t haplotype in house mice exhibits strong drive in t heterozygous males by affecting spermatogenesis and is associated with homozygous in utero lethality. We used controlled matings to test the effect of the t haplotype on sperm competitiveness. Regardless of mating order, t heterozygous males sired only 11% of zygotes when competing against wild-type males, suggesting a very strong effect of the t haplotype on sperm quality. We provide, to our knowledge, the first substantial evidence that polyandry ameliorates the harmful effects of an autosomal SGE arising through genetic incompatibility. We discuss potential mechanisms in our study species and the broader implications for the benefits of polyandry.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Uncontrolled Keywords:embryo viability; genetic incompatibility; indirect benefits; polyandry; segregation distortion; t haplotype
Language:English
Date:1 July 2015
Deposited On:16 Jul 2015 09:12
Last Modified:27 Aug 2017 03:03
Publisher:Royal Society Publishing
ISSN:0962-8452
Funders:Swiss National Science Foundation
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2015.0974
Related URLs:http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/282/1811/20150974 (Publisher)
PubMed ID:26136452

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