Article

Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 98, Issue 1, pp 23-33

First online:

Copy number variation in the melanocortin 4 receptor gene and alternative reproductive tactics the swordtail Xiphophorus multilineatus

  • C. C. SmithAffiliated withDepartment of Integrative Biology, The University of Texas at Austin Email author 
  • , R. M. HarrisAffiliated withDepartment of Integrative Biology, The University of Texas at Austin
  • , K. P. LampertAffiliated withDepartment of Animal Ecology, Evolution and Biodiversity, University of Bochum
  • , M. SchartlAffiliated withPhysiological Chemistry, Biocentre, University of WürzburgComprehensive Cancer Center Mainfranken
  • , H. A. HofmannAffiliated withDepartment of Integrative Biology, The University of Texas at AustinInstitute for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Institute for Neuroscience, The University of Texas
  • , M. J. RyanAffiliated withDepartment of Integrative Biology, The University of Texas at Austin

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Abstract

Alternative reproductive tactics are powerful examples of how variation in genetics and physiology among individuals can lead to striking diversity in phenotype. In the swordtails (genus Xiphophorus), copy number variation (CNV) at the melanocortin 4 receptor (mc4r) locus is correlated with male body size, which in turn is correlated with male mating behavior. We measured the relationship between mc4r CNV, behavior, and 11-ketotesterone (11-KT) in X. multilineatus to determine whether mc4r CNV was associated with other components of male tactics in addition to body size. We confirmed the results of previous studies, showing that male size increases with mc4r CNV and that mating behavior toward females was size-dependent. We also examined agonistic behavior by exposing males to their mirror image and found that male-male displays behavior were size-dependent. Small males were less likely to exhibit an agonistic response, suggesting that alternative reproductive tactics span intrasexual and intersexual contexts. There was no significant association between mc4r CNV and behavior or 11-KT hormone titer. Mc4r CNV is thus associated with the variation in male body size, but not with other traits independent of body size.

Keywords

11-ketotestosterone Alternative reproductive tactics Copy number variation Melanocortin 4 receptor P-gene Xiphophorus