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Sex-specific effects of mitochondrial haplotype on metabolic rate in Drosophila melanogaster support predictions of the Mother's Curse hypothesis

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  • Venkatesh Nagarajan-Radha
  • Ian Aitkenhead
  • David Clancy
  • Steven L. Chown
  • Damian K Dowling
Article number20190178
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>30/01/2020
<mark>Journal</mark>Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1790
Number of pages11
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date2/12/19
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Evolutionary theory proposes that maternal inheritance of mitochondria will facilitate the accumulation of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) mutations that are harmful to males but benign or beneficial to females. Furthermore, mtDNA haplotypes sampled from across a given species distribution are expected to differ in the number and identity of these ‘male-harming’ mutations they accumulate. Consequently, it is predicted that the genetic variation which delineates distinct mtDNA haplotypes of a given species should confer larger phenotypic effects on males than females (reflecting mtDNA mutations that are male-harming, but female-benign), or sexually antagonistic effects (reflecting mutations that are male-harming, but female-benefitting). These predictions have received support from recent work examining mitochondrial haplotypic effects on adult life-history traits in Drosophila melanogaster. Here, we explore whether similar signatures of male-bias or sexual antagonism extend to a key physiological trait—metabolic rate. We measured the effects of mitochondrial haplotypes on the amount of carbon dioxide produced by individual flies, controlling for mass and activity, across 13 strains of D. melanogaster that differed only in their mtDNA haplotype. The effects of mtDNA haplotype on metabolic rate were larger in males than females. Furthermore, we observed a negative intersexual correlation across the haplotypes for metabolic rate. Finally, we uncovered a male-specific negative correlation, across haplotypes, between metabolic rate and longevity. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that maternal mitochondrial inheritance has led to the accumulation of a sex-specific genetic load within the mitochondrial genome, which affects metabolic rate and that may have consequences for the evolution of sex differences in life history.