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Experimental evolution of a pheromone signal
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  • Thomas Blankers,
  • Elise Fruitet,
  • Emily R. Burdfield-Steel,
  • Astrid Groot
Thomas Blankers
University of Amsterdam

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Elise Fruitet
University of Amsterdam
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Emily R. Burdfield-Steel
University of Amsterdam
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Astrid Groot
University of Amsterdam
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Sexual signals are important in speciation, but understanding their evolution is complex as these signals are often composed of multiple, genetically interdependent components. To understand how signals evolve, we thus need to consider selection responses in multiple components and account for the genetic correlations among components. One intriguing possibility is that selection changes the genetic covariance structure of a multicomponent signal in a way that facilitates a response to selection. However, this hypothesis remains largely untested empirically. In this study, we investigate the evolutionary response of the multicomponent female sex pheromone blend of the moth Heliothis subflexa to 10 generations of artificial selection. We observed a selection response of about 3/4s of a phenotypic standard deviation in the components under selection. Interestingly, other pheromone components that are biochemically and genetically linked to the components under selection did not change. We also found that after the onset of selection, the genetic covariance structure diverged, resulting in the disassociation of components under selection and components not under selection across the first two genetic principle components. Our findings provide rare empirical support for an intriguing mechanism by which a sexual signal can respond to selection without possible constraints from indirect selection responses.
25 Apr 2022Submitted to Ecology and Evolution
25 Apr 2022Assigned to Editor
25 Apr 2022Submission Checks Completed
28 Apr 2022Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
02 May 2022Editorial Decision: Accept
May 2022Published in Ecology and Evolution volume 12 issue 5. 10.1002/ece3.8941