Queen's University researchers have discovered that seeking out the most attractive mate may be unhealthy for any offspring.
Using a "virtual fruit fly dating game", Biology professor Adam Chippindale and graduate student Alison Pischedda have found that mating with a "fit" partner actually leads to dramatically lower rates of reproductive success in the next generation.
The research also raises questions about how masculine and feminine traits may be expressed through genes.
The findings, published in the November edition of PLoS Biology, suggest quite a twist on evolutionary thinking: On average, the lowest quality couple produced the best offspring while the highest quality pair produced the worst offspring.
The Queen's research team measured the inheritance of "fitness" (quality and number of offspring) using samples of low-and-high-fitness males and a separate set of low-and-high-fitness females to uncover what occurs as a result of sexual selection, the Darwinian process by which organisms compete for, and choose, their mates. In some traditional models, sexual selection is the search to provide offspring with 'good genes' to increase their reproductive success.
But Chippindale's group suspected that things were not so simple, at least in their flies. If sexually antagonistic genes, or genes that benefit one sex while harming the other, are prevalent then "…females who seek out high-fitness males will find that they produce high quality sons, but this will have detrimental effects on their daughters," says Dr. Chippindale, a Canada Research Chair in evolutionary genetics.
The researchers findings supports the notion that sexually antagonistic genes exert powerful effects and mostly inhabit the X chromosome, which only females pass onto sons. So when females choose successful mates they will see no benefits to sons and will only incur the cost of less-fit daughters, says Dr. Chippindale. "Sexually antagonistic genes, may be harmful or compromise fitness by reducing fertility of the opposite sex."
Dr. Chippindale suggests that this phenomenon may operate in far more organisms than the fruit fly. "If there are genes which have effects that feminize or masculinize each individual, then the expression of a wide variety of such genes will produce a continuum of gender. People wonder why there is so much gender identity diversity in the human populations – this kind of mechanism may help us get a handle on that."
Molly Kehoe | EurekAlert!
First time-lapse footage of cell activity during limb regeneration
25.10.2016 | eLife
Phenotype at the push of a button
25.10.2016 | Institut für Pflanzenbiochemie
Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.
This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...
Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion
Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences
25.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering
25.10.2016 | Process Engineering