The genetic architecture of sexual conflict: male harm and female resistance in Callosobruchus maculatus

J Evol Biol. 2011 Feb;24(2):449-56. doi: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2010.02182.x. Epub 2010 Dec 3.


Males harm females during mating in a range of species. This harm is thought to evolve because it is directly or indirectly beneficial to the male, despite being costly to his mate. The resulting sexually antagonistic selection can cause sexual arms races. For sexually antagonistic co-evolution to occur, there must be genetic variation for traits involved in female harming and susceptibility to harm, but even then intersexual genetic correlations could facilitate or impede sexual co-evolution. Male Callosobruchus maculatus harm their mates during copulation by damaging the female's reproductive tract. However, there have been no investigations of the genetic variation in damage or in female susceptibility to damage, nor has the genetic covariance between these characters been assessed. Here, we use a full-sib/half-sib breeding design to show that male damage is heritable, whereas female susceptibility to damage is much less so. There is also a substantial positive genetic correlation between the two, suggesting that selection favouring damaging males will increase the prevalence of susceptible females. We also provide evidence consistent with intralocus sexual conflict in this species.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Coleoptera / anatomy & histology*
  • Coleoptera / physiology*
  • Copulation / physiology*
  • Female
  • Genitalia, Female / pathology
  • Genitalia, Male / anatomy & histology*
  • Male
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal / physiology*