Genetic variation in male effects on female reproduction and the genetic covariance between the sexes

Mary Ellen Czesak, Charles W. Fox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Males of many insect species increase the fecundity and/or egg size of their mates through the amount or composition of their nuptial gifts or ejaculate. The genetic bases of such male effects on fecundity or egg size are generally unknown, and thus their ability to evolve remains speculative. Likewise, the genetic relationship between male and female investment into reproduction in dioecious species, which is expected to be positive if effects on fecundity are controlled by at least some of the same genes in males and females, is also unknown. Males of the seed beetle Stator limbatus contribute large ejaculates to females during mating, and the amount of donated ejaculate is positively correlated with male body mass. Females mated to large males lay more eggs in their lifetime than females mated to small males. We describe an experiment in which we quantify genetic variation in the number of eggs sired by males (mated to a single female) and found that a significant proportion of the phenotypic variance in the number of eggs sired by males was explained by their genotype. Additionally, the number of eggs sired by a male was highly positively genetically correlated with his body mass. The between-sex genetic correlation, that is, the genetic correlation between the number of eggs sired by males and the number of eggs laid by females, was highly positive when eggs were laid on Acacia greggii seeds. This indicates that males that sire many eggs have sisters that lay many eggs. Thus, some of the genes that control male ejaculate size (or some other fecundity-enhancing factor) when expressed in males appear to control fecundity when expressed in females. We found no significant interaction between male and female genotype on fecundity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1359-1366
Number of pages8
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2003


  • Between-sex genetic correlation
  • Ejaculate
  • Fecundity
  • Male effects
  • Stator limbatus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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