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Linking population genomic and behavioural data to test fundamental hypotheses of sexually antagonistic coevolution.

Project description

Sexual antagonism driving diversity in nature

For the most part, the fascinating biological processes driving the most interactive morphological and behavioural traits in nature remain a mystery. Observations suggest that they are led by sexually antagonistic coevolution (SAC) and sexual conflict. Unfortunately, we still lack knowledge of the genetic basis of most known sexual conflict traits. Funded by the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions programme, the PopGenSexCon project aims to shed light on the exact role of SAC and sexual conflict. To that end, it will link population genomic data with outcomes from experiments and behavioural data. Moreover, it will investigate how co-evolutionary patterns were shaped in Drosophila melanogaster (a unique species with known sexual traits) allowing the testing of hypotheses regarding SAC.


Sexual conflict and sexually antagonistic coevolution (SAC) are compelling hypotheses to explain some of the extraordinary diversity in morphological and behavioral traits observed in nature. However, the study of the genomic foundations of this conflict and the resulting population genetic dynamics are still in their infancy. This is due to a lack of knowledge about the genetic underpinnings of the most well understood sexual conflict traits. An exception to this rule are the seminal fluid and female reproductive tract proteins that interact and mediate conflicts over remating rates in the cosmopolitan model species Drosophila melanogaster. However, in this system a population-level perspective to investigate population genomic signals of SAC and the consequences for outcomes of mating interactions within populations is lacking. Here I propose to take advantage of a Europe-wide population genetic data-set as well as an ongoing pan-European collaborative sampling and phenotyping effort of D. melanogaster to understand how sexual conflict has shaped co-evolutionary patterns at genetic loci involved in sexually antagonistic traits. Furthermore, I will investigate the consequences of this genetic coevolution on contemporary male-female interactions. My proposal has three objectives: i) a population genomic analysis of population genomic data from European D. melanogaster populations, ii) lab-based behavioural experiments to investigate the male-female interactions for inbred lines obtained from populations with extreme patterns of coevolution, iii) and indirect study of the consequences of coevolution on natural behaviour via sampling of wild-caught females and determining mating/re-mating rates. This project will increase our understanding of the role of sexual conflict and sexually antagonistic coevolution in population divergence and set a standard for investigations of the genomic causes and consequences of SAC.

Funding Scheme



Net EU contribution
€ 206 887,68
10691 Stockholm

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Östra Sverige Stockholm Stockholms län
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
No data