Male eye span in stalk-eyed flies indicates genetic quality by meiotic drive suppression

Wilkinson, GSP, D. C.; Crymes, L.,  Nature,  391:276-279. 1998.

In some species, females choose mates possessing ornaments that predict offspring survival(1-5). However, sexual selection by female preference for male genetic quality(6-8) remains controversial because conventional genetic mechanisms maintain insufficient variation in male quality to account for costly preference and ornament evolution(9,10). Here we show that females prefer ornaments that indicate genetic quality generated by transmission conflict between the sex chromosomes, By comparing sex-ratio distributions in stalk-eyed fly (Cyrtodiopsis) progeny we found that female-biased sex ratios occur in species exhibiting eye-stalk sexual dimorphism(11,12) and female preferences for long eye span(13,14). Female-biased sex ratios result from meiotic drive(15), the preferential transmission of a ‘selfish’ X-chromosome. Artificial selection for 22 generations on male eye-stalk length in sexually dimorphic C. dalmanni produced longer eye-stalks and male-biased progeny sex ratios in replicate lines. Because male-biased progeny sex ratios occur when a drive-resistant Y chromosome pairs with a driving X chromosome(15), long eye span is genetically linked to meiotic drive: suppression. Male eye span therefore signals genetic quality by influencing the reproductive value of offspring(16).