Parent-offspring conflict and the genetic trade-offs shaping parental investment

Nat Commun. 2015 Apr 16;6:6850. doi: 10.1038/ncomms7850.


The genetic conflict between parents and their offspring is a cornerstone of kin selection theory and the gene-centred view of evolution, but whether it actually occurs in natural systems remains an open question. Conflict operates only if parenting is driven by genetic trade-offs between offspring performance and the parent's ability to raise additional offspring, and its expression critically depends on the shape of these trade-offs. Here we investigate the occurrence and nature of genetic conflict in an insect with maternal care, the earwig Forficula auricularia. Specifically, we test for a direct response to experimental selection on female future reproduction and correlated responses in current offspring survival, developmental rate and growth. The results demonstrate genetic trade-offs that differ in shape before and after hatching. Our study not only provides direct evidence for parent-offspring conflict but also highlights that conflict is not inevitable and critically depends on the genetic trade-offs shaping parental investment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal*
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Female
  • Insecta*
  • Male
  • Maternal Behavior*
  • Reproduction*
  • Selection, Genetic*