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Selfish Genetic Elements Promote Polyandry in a Fly

Science  21 Nov 2008:
Vol. 322, Issue 5905, pp. 1241-1243
DOI: 10.1126/science.1163766

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Abstract

It is unknown why females mate with multiple males when mating is frequently costly and a single copulation often provides enough sperm to fertilize all a female's eggs. One possibility is that remating increases the fitness of offspring, because fertilization success is biased toward the sperm of high-fitness males. We show that female Drosophila pseudoobscura evolved increased remating rates when exposed to the risk of mating with males carrying a deleterious sex ratio–distorting gene that also reduces sperm competitive ability. Because selfish genetic elements that reduce sperm competitive ability are generally associated with low genetic fitness, they may represent a common driver of the evolution of polyandry.

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