Antagonistic responses to natural and sexual selection and the sex-specific evolution of cuticular hydrocarbons in Drosophila simulans

Evolution. 2012 Mar;66(3):665-677. doi: 10.1111/j.1558-5646.2011.01468.x. Epub 2011 Oct 24.


Natural and sexual selection are classically thought to oppose one another, and although there is evidence for this, direct experimental demonstrations of this antagonism are largely lacking. Here, we assessed the effects of sexual and natural selection on the evolution of cuticular hydrocarbons (CHCs), a character subject to both modes of selection, in Drosophila simulans. Natural selection and sexual selection were manipulated in a fully factorial design, and after 27 generations of experimental evolution, the responses of male and female CHCs were assessed. The effects of natural and sexual selection differed greatly across the sexes. The responses of female CHCs were generally small, but CHCs evolved predominantly in the direction of natural selection. For males, profiles evolved via sexual and natural selection, as well as through the interaction between the two, with some male CHC components only evolving in the direction of natural selection when sexual selection was relaxed. These results indicate sex-specific responses to selection, and that sexual and natural selection act antagonistically for at least some combinations of CHCs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Drosophila / chemistry
  • Drosophila / genetics*
  • Female
  • Hydrocarbons / chemistry*
  • Male
  • Selection, Genetic*
  • Sex Characteristics*


  • Hydrocarbons