Genetic architecture and sexual conflict in the life history of Drosophila
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Because males and females of a species express many homologous traits, sex-specific selection on these traits can shift the opposite sex away from its phenotypic optimum. This mode of sexually antagonistic selection, known as intralocus sexual conflict (IaSC), arises when the evolution of sexual dimorphism is constrained by the two sexes sharing a common gene pool. As IaSC has been historically overlooked, many outstanding questions remain. For example, what is its contribution in maintaining genetic variation for fitness in populations? What characters underlie this variation in fitness? How does the selection history of the population influence the standing genetic variation? I used the model organism Drosophila melanogaster to attempt to resolve some of these questions. The first part of my Master’s project involved assessing the detectability of sexually antagonistic alleles in populations at different stages of adaptation to the laboratory. For the second part of my Master’s project, I looked for evidence of conflict during the development of body size, a well-known sexually dimorphic trait. While the first part of my thesis proved inconclusive, the second part revealed a surprising source of sexual conflict in pre-adult stages of D. melanogaster.