Selfish genetic elements promote polyandry in a fly

Price, TARH, D. J.; Lewis, Z.; Hurst, G. D. D.; Wedell, N.,  Science,  322:1241-1243. 2008.

It is unknown why females mate with multiple males when mating is frequently costly and a single copulation often provides enough sperm to fertilize all a female’s eggs. One possibility is that remating increases the fitness of offspring, because fertilization success is biased toward the sperm of high- fitness males. We show that female Drosophila pseudoobscura evolved increased remating rates when exposed to the risk of mating with males carrying a deleterious sex ratio- distorting gene that also reduces sperm competitive ability. Because selfish genetic elements that reduce sperm competitive ability are generally associated with low genetic fitness, they may represent a common driver of the evolution of polyandry.