Experimental evidence for the evolution of indirect genetic effects: changes in the interaction effect coefficient, psi (Psi), due to sexual selection

Evolution. 2010 Jun;64(6):1849-56. doi: 10.1111/j.1558-5646.2010.00952.x. Epub 2010 Jan 20.


Indirect genetics effects (IGEs)--when the genotype of one individual affects the phenotypic expression of a trait in another--may alter evolutionary trajectories beyond that predicted by standard quantitative genetic theory as a consequence of genotypic evolution of the social environment. For IGEs to occur, the trait of interest must respond to one or more indicator traits in interacting conspecifics. In quantitative genetic models of IGEs, these responses (reaction norms) are termed interaction effect coefficients and are represented by the parameter psi (Psi). The extent to which Psi exhibits genetic variation within a population, and may therefore itself evolve, is unknown. Using an experimental evolution approach, we provide evidence for a genetic basis to the phenotypic response caused by IGEs on sexual display traits in Drosophila serrata. We show that evolution of the response is affected by sexual but not natural selection when flies adapt to a novel environment. Our results indicate a further mechanism by which IGEs can alter evolutionary trajectories--the evolution of interaction effects themselves.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Drosophila / genetics*
  • Drosophila / metabolism
  • Environment
  • Female
  • Hydrocarbons / metabolism
  • Male
  • Selection, Genetic*
  • Sex Attractants / metabolism
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Social Behavior*


  • Hydrocarbons
  • Sex Attractants