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Data from: Ejaculate sperm number compensation in stalk-eyed flies carrying a selfish meiotic drive element

Citation

Meade, Lara C. et al. (2018), Data from: Ejaculate sperm number compensation in stalk-eyed flies carrying a selfish meiotic drive element, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.cf0468k

Abstract

Meiotic drive genes cause the degeneration of non-carrier sperm to bias transmission in their favour. Males carrying meiotic drive are expected to suffer reduced fertility due to the loss of sperm and associated harmful side-effects of the mechanisms causing segregation distortion. However, sexual selection should promote adaptive compensation to overcome these deleterious effects. We investigate this using SR, an X-linked meiotic drive system in the stalk-eyed fly, Teleopsis dalmanni. Despite sperm destruction caused by drive, we find no evidence that SR males transfer fewer sperm to the female’s spermathecae (long-term storage organs). Likewise, migration from the spermathecae to the ventral receptacle for fertilisation is similar for SR and wildtype male sperm, both over short and long time-frames. In addition, sperm number in storage is similar even after males have mated multiple times. Our study challenges conventional assumptions about the deleterious effects of drive on male fertility. This suggests that SR male ejaculate investment per ejaculate has been adjusted to match sperm delivery by wildtype males. We interpret these results in the light of recent theoretical models that predict how ejaculate strategies evolve when males vary in the resources allocated to reproduction or in sperm fertility. Adaptive compensation is likely in species where meiotic drive has persisted over many generations and predicts a higher stable frequency of drive maintained in wild populations. Future research must determine exactly how drive males compensate for failed spermatogenesis, and how such compensation may trade-off with investment in other fitness traits.

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