One of the most sharply defined sexual conflicts arises when the act of mating is accompanied by an inflated risk of death. Several reports have documented an increased death rate of female Drosophila as a result of recurrent mating. Transgenic and mutation experiments have further identified components of seminal fluid that are at least in part responsible for this toxicity. Variation among males in their tendency for matings to be toxic to their partners has also been documented, but here for the first time we identify polymorphism within particular genes conferring differential post-mating female mortality. Such polymorphism is important, as it raises the challenge of whether sexual conflict models can provide means for maintenance of polymorphism. Using a set of second chromosome extraction lines, we scored differences in post-mating female fecundity and longevity subsequent to mating, and identified significant among-line differences. Seventy polymorphisms in ten male reproductive genes were scored and permutation tests were used to identify significant associations between genotype and phenotype. One polymorphism upstream of PEBII and an amino acid substitution in CG17331 were both associated with male-induced female mortality. The same allele of CG17331 that is toxic to females also induces greater refractoriness to remating in the females, providing an example of an allele-specific sexual conflict. Postcopulatory sexual selection could lead to sexual conflict by favouring males that prevent their mates from mating, even when there is a viability cost to those females.
One contribution of 13 to a Discussion Meeting Issue ‘Sexual conflict: a new paradigm?’.
- © 2006 The Royal Society