The humble fruitfly sheds light on another genetic question

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The humble fruitfly sheds light on another genetic question

November 20, 2008

Drosophila pseudoobscura  male

J. T. Patterson, FlyBase

Drosophila pseudoobscura male fly.

It is unknown why females mate with multiple males when mating is frequently costly and a single copulation often provides enough sperm to fertilize all a female’s eggs. One possibility is that remating increases the fitness of offspring, because fertilization success is biased toward the sperm of high-fitness males. We show that female Drosophila pseudoobscura evolved increased remating rates when exposed to the risk of mating with males carrying a deleterious sex ratio–distorting gene that also reduces sperm competitive ability. Because selfish genetic elements that reduce sperm competitive ability are generally associated with low genetic fitness, they may represent a common driver of the evolution of polyandry.

Read more at Science – Selfish Genetic Elements Promote Polyandry in a Fly.

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