Intralocus sexual conflict in a hermaphroditic flatworm
What maintains standing genetic variation in natural populations? One possible explanation could be sexual conflict. Sexual conflict, or sexual antagonism, occurs when the same allele for a gene has opposite fitness effects for females and males. I am interested in how intralocus sexual conflict contributes to standing genetic variation in hermaphroditic populations.
To investigate this, I will measure the response to sex-limited evolution on a synthetic sex chromosome in the free-living marine flatworm Macrostomum lignano. M. lignano has had a gene incorporated in its DNA – the gene for green fluorescent protein (GFP, originally extracted from a jellyfish) – making the whole flatworm glow in green under UV light. In my experiment, I will make the GFP marker function as a sex-determining gene by letting it pass through either eggs (“female” treatment) or sperm (“male” treatment) in each generation. This will, after many generations, create an accumulation of standing genetic variation of sex-specific fitness genes linked to the GFP locus in each treatment.
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