X chromosome drive is constrained by sexual selection and influences ornament evolution

K. A. Paczolt, G. T. Welsh and G. S. Wilkinson,  Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences,  290:20230929. 2023.

Experimental evolution provides an integrative method for revealing complex interactions among evolutionary processes. One such interaction involves sex-linked selfish genetic elements and sexual selection. X-linked segregation distorters, a type of selfish genetic element, influence sperm transmission to increase in frequency and consequently alter the population sex ratio and the opportunity for sexual selection, while sexual selection may impact the spread of X-linked distorters. Here we manipulated sexual selection by controlling female mating opportunities and the presence of a distorting X chromosome in experimental lines of the stalk-eyed fly, Teleopsis dalmanni, over 11 generations. We find that removal of sexual selection leads to an increase in the frequency of the X-linked distorter and sex ratio across generations and that post-copulatory sexual selection alone is sufficient to limit the frequency of distorters. In addition, we find that male eyestalk length, a trait under pre-copulatory sexual selection, evolves in response to changes in the strength of sexual selection with the magnitude of the response dependent on X chromosome type and the frequency of distorting X chromosomes. These results reveal how a selfish X can interact with sexual selection to influence the evolution of sexually selected traits in multiple ways.

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