Special Reviews

Sex and Conflict

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Science  25 Sep 1998:
Vol. 281, Issue 5385, pp. 2003-2008
DOI: 10.1126/science.281.5385.2003

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Evolutionary conflict occurs when the deterministic spread of an allele lowers the fitness either of its bearer or of other individuals in the population, leading to selection for suppressors. Sex promotes conflict because associations between alleles are temporary. Differing selection on males and females, sexual selection, and differences in transmission patterns between classes of nuclear and cytoplasmic genes can all give rise to conflict. Inert Y chromosomes, uniparental inheritance of cytoplasmic genes, mating strains and sexes, and many features of sexual behavior may have evolved in part as a result of evolutionary conflict. Estimates of its quantitative importance, however, are still needed.

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