Heterosis in age-specific selected populations of a seed beetle: Sex differences in longevity and reproductive behavior
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We tested mutation accumulation hypothesis for the evolution of senescence using short-lived and long-lived populations of the seed-feeding beetle, Acanthoscelides obtectus (Say), obtained by selection on early-and late-life for many generations. The expected consequence of the mutation accumulation hypothesis is that in short-lived populations, where the force of natural selection is the strongest early in life, the late-life fitness traits should decline due to genetic drift which increases the frequency of mutations with deleterious effects in later adult stages. Since it is unlikely that identical deleterious mutations will increase in several independent populations, hybrid vigor for late-life fitness is expected in offspring obtained in crosses among populations selected for early-life fitness traits. We tested longevity of both sexes, female fecundity and male reproductive behavior for hybrid vigor by comparing hybrid and nonhybrid short-lived populations. Hybrid vigor was confirmed for male virility, mating speed and copulation duration, and longevity of both sexes at late ages. In contrast to males, the results on female fecundity in short-lived populations did not support mutation accumulation as a genetic mechanism for the evolution of this trait. Contrary to the prediction of this hypothesis, male mating ability indices and female fecundity in long-lived populations exhibited hybrid vigor at all assayed age classes. We demonstrate that nonhybrid long-lived populations diverged randomly regarding female and male reproductive fitness, indicating that sexually antagonistic selection, when accompanied with genetic drift for female fecundity and male virility, might be responsible for overriding natural selection in the independently evolving long-lived populations.