No evidence for female discrimination against male house mice carrying a selfish genetic element

Sutter, AL, A. K.,  Current Zoology,  62:675-685. 2016.

Meiotic drivers distort transmission to the next generation in their favor, with detrimental effects on the fitness of their homologues and the rest of the genome. Male carriers of meiotic drivers commonly inflict costs on their mates through genetic incompatibility, reduced fecundity, or biased brood sex ratios. Given these costs, evidence for female discrimination against male carriers is surprisingly rare. One of few examples is the t haplotype in house mice, a meiotic driver that shows strong transmission distortion in males and is typically homozygote lethal. As a consequence, mating between 2 t heterozygous (+/t) mice leads to high embryo mortality. Previous experiments showing that +/t females avoid this incompatibility cost by preferring +/+versus +/t males have inferred preference based on olfactory cues or brief social interactions. Evidence from mating contexts in laboratory settings and semi-natural populations has been inconclusive. Here, we investigated female choice from a large number of no-choice mating trials. We found no evidence for discrimination against +/t males based on mating, remating, and copulatory behavior. Further, we found no evidence for avoidance of incompatibility through selective interactions between gametes. The likelihood of mating showed significant effects of female weight and genotype, suggesting that our test paradigm enabled females to exhibit mate choice. We discuss the strengths and limitations of our approach. By explicitly considering selection at both the individual and gene level, we argue why precopulatory female discrimination by +/t females may be less evolutionarily stable than discrimination by all females based on postcopulatory mechanisms.