Male Sex Drive and the Maintenance of Sex: Evidence from Drosophila
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The resolution of the paradoxes surrounding the evolutionary origins and maintenance of sexual reproduction has been a major focus in biology. The operation of sexual selection-which is very common among multicellular organisms-has been proposed as an important factor in the maintenance of sex, though in order for this hypothesis to hold, the strength of sexual selection must be stronger in males than in females. Sexual selection poses its own series of evolutionary questions, including how genetic variability is maintained in the face of sustained directional selection (known as the "paradox of the lek"). In this short review, we present evidence obtained from recent comparative genomics projects arguing that 1) the genomic consequences of sexual selection clearly show that its effect is stronger in males and 2) this sustained selection over evolutionary timescales also has an effect of capturing de novo genes and expression patterns influencing male fitness, thus providing a mechanism via which new genetic variation can be input into to male traits. Furthermore, we argue that this latter process of genomic "masculinization" has an additional effect of making males difficult to purge from populations, as evidence from Drosophila indicates that, for example, many male sexually selected seminal fluid factors are required to ensure maximally efficient reproduction. Newly arising parthenogenic mutations would suffer an immediate reproductive rate disadvantage were these proteins lost. We show that recent studies confirm that genomic masculinization, as a result of "male sex drive," has important consequences for the evolution of sexually dimorphic species.
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