3 years ago

Stabilizing selection on sperm number revealed by artificial selection and experimental evolution

Andrea Di Nisio, Andrea Pilastro, Silvia Cattelan
Sperm competition is taxonomically widespread in animals and is usually associated with large sperm production, being the number of sperm in the competing pool the prime predictor of fertilization success. Despite the strong postcopulatory selection acting directionally on sperm production, its genetic variance is often very high. This can be explained by trade-offs between sperm production and traits associated with mate acquisition or survival, that may contribute to generate an overall stabilizing selection. To investigate this hypothesis, we first artificially selected male guppies (Poecilia reticulata) for high and low sperm production for three generations, while simultaneously removing sexual selection. Then, we interrupted artificial selection and restored sexual selection. Sperm production responded to divergent selection in one generation, and when we restored sexual selection, both high and low lines converged back to the mean sperm production of the original population within two generations, indicating that sperm number is subject to strong stabilizing total sexual selection (i.e. selection acting simultaneously on all traits associated with reproductive success). We discuss the possible mechanisms responsible for the maintenance of high genetic variability in sperm production despite strong selection acting on it. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved

Publisher URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/resolve/doi

DOI: 10.1111/evo.13425

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