Peer-Reviewed Journal Details
Mandatory Fields
Mills W, Moore T;
Polyandry, life-history trade-offs and the evolution of imprinting at Mendelian loci.
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Genomic imprinting causes parental origin-dependent differential expression of a small number of genes in mammalian and angiosperm plant embryos, resulting in non-Mendelian inheritance of phenotypic traits. The "conflict" theory of the evolution of imprinting proposes that reduced genetic relatedness of paternally, relative to maternally, derived alleles in offspring of polygamous females supports parental sex-specific selection at gene loci that influence maternal investment. While the theory's physiological predictions are well supported by observation, the requirement of polyandry in the evolution of imprinting from an ancestral Mendelian state has not been comprehensively analyzed. Here, we use diallelic models to examine the influence of various degrees of polyandry on the evolution of both Mendelian and imprinted autosomal gene loci that influence trade-offs between maternal fecundity and offspring viability. We show that, given a plausible assumption on the physiological relationship between maternal fecundity and offspring viability, low levels of polyandry are sufficient to reinforce exclusively the fixation of "greedy" paternally imprinted alleles that increase offspring viability at the expense of maternal fecundity and "thrifty" maternally imprinted alleles of opposite effect. We also show that, for all levels of polyandry, Mendelian alleles at genetic loci that influence the trade-off between maternal fecundity and offspring viability reach an evolutionary stable state, whereas pairs of reciprocally imprinted alleles do not.
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