Extraordinarily precise nematode sex ratios: adaptive responses to vanishingly rare mating opportunities
Van Goor, Justin (2022), Extraordinarily precise nematode sex ratios: adaptive responses to vanishingly rare mating opportunities, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.h70rxwdkk
Sex ratio theory predicts both mean sex ratio and variance under a range of population structures. Here, we compare two genera of phoretic nematodes (Parasitodiplogaster and Ficophagus spp.) associated with twelve fig-pollinating wasp species in Panama. The host wasps exhibit classic Local Mate Competition: only inseminated females disperse from natal figs, and their offspring form mating pools that consist of scores of the adult offspring contributed by one or a few foundress mothers. In contrast, in both nematode genera only sexually undifferentiated juveniles disperse and their mating pools routinely consist of ten or fewer adults. Across all mating pool sizes, the sex ratios observed in both nematode genera are consistently female-biased (~0.34 males), which is markedly less female-biased than is often observed in the host wasps (~0.10 males). In further contrast with their hosts, variances in nematode sex ratios are also consistently precise (significantly less than binomial). The constraints associated with predictably small mating pools within highly subdivided populations appear to select for precise sex ratios that contribute both to the reproductive success of individual nematodes, and to the evolutionary persistence of nematode species. We suggest that some form of environmental sex determination underlies these precise sex ratios.