Decay of Sexual Trait Genes in an Asexual Parasitoid Wasp
Compared with diploid species, haplodiploids suffer less inbreeding depression because male haploidy imposes purifying selection on recessive deleterious alleles. However, alleles of genes only expressed in the diploid females are protected in heterozygous individuals. This leads to the prediction that haplodiploids suffer more from inbreeding effects on life-history traits controlled by genes with female-limited expression. To test this, we used a wild population of the haplodiploid mite Tetranychus urticae. First, negative effects of inbreeding were investigated by comparing maturation rate, juvenile survival, oviposition rate and longevity between lines created by three generations of either outbreeding or mother–son inbreeding. Second, purging through inbreeding was investigated by comparing the intensity of inbreeding depression between outbred families with known inbreeding/outbreeding mating histories. Negative effects of inbreeding and evidence for purging were found for the female trait oviposition rate, but not for juvenile survival and longevity. Both male and female maturation rate were negatively affected by inbreeding, most likely due to maternal effects because inbred offspring of outbred mothers was not affected. These results support the hypothesis that, in haplodiploids inbreeding effects and genetic variation due to deleterious recessive alleles may depend on gender.