, Volume 139, Issue 10, pp 1241-1249
Date: 05 Jan 2012

Genetic variation in a female genital trait evolved by sexual coevolution

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Abstract

Understanding the patterns of genetic variation of traits subject to sexual selection is fundamental for explaining its evolutionary dynamics and potential for sexual coevolution. The signa of female Lepidoptera are sclerotized structures located on the inner surface of the genital receptacle that receives the spermatophore during copulation (the corpus bursae), whose main function is tearing the spermatophore envelope. Comparative data indicate that the evolution of signa has been influenced by sexually antagonistic coevolution with spermatophore envelopes. We looked for additive genetic variation in the size and shape of signa in females of the butterfly Callophrys xami (Lycaenidae) from two localities (BG and FC) in Mexico City. We also looked for genetic variation in female body size and in the size of corpus bursae. There were significant between-population differences in female body size, signa width and three signa shape traits. We found significant extranuclear maternal effects in one component of signa shape in the BG population, and in body weight, signa length and in one uniform component of signa shape in the FC population. Extranuclear maternal contributions could permit the evolution of female adaptations even if these reduce male fitness. We found additive genetic variation in signa length and width only in one population (BG); heritability estimates were high: 0.96 and 0.8, respectively. The existence of additive genetic variation in signa size could be, at least in part, a result of relaxed sexually antagonistic selection pressures due to the low level of polyandry exhibited by this species. Our results imply that there is currently potential for further sexual coevolution in this trait.