Data from: In search of genetic constraints limiting the evolution of egg size: Direct and correlated responses to artificial selection on a prenatal maternal effector
Pick, Joel; Hutter, Pascale; Tschirren, Barbara (2016), Data from: In search of genetic constraints limiting the evolution of egg size: Direct and correlated responses to artificial selection on a prenatal maternal effector, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.gj5b7
Maternal effects are an important force in nature, but the evolutionary dynamics of the traits that cause them are not well understood. Egg size is known to be a key mediator of prenatal maternal effects with an established genetic basis. Contrary to theoretical expectations for fitness-related traits, there is a large amount of additive genetic variation in egg size observed in natural populations. One possible mechanism for the maintenance of this variation is through genetic constraints caused by a shared genetic basis among traits. Here we created replicated, divergent selection lines for maternal egg investment in Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica) to quantify the role of genetic constraints in the evolution of egg size. We found that egg size responds rapidly to selection, accompanied by a strong response in all egg components. Initially, we observed a correlated response in body size, but this response declined over time, showing that egg size and body size can evolve independently. Furthermore, no correlated response in fecundity (i.e. the number of eggs laid over a 10 day period) was observed. However, the response to selection was asymmetrical, with egg size plateauing after one generation of selection in the high but not the low investment lines. We attribute this pattern to the presence of genetic asymmetries, caused by directional dominance or unequal allele frequencies. Such asymmetries may contribute to the evolutionary stasis in egg size observed in natural populations, despite a positive association between egg size and fitness.