Population genetics of sexual conflict in the genomic era
- Judith E. Mank
- Nature Reviews Genetics
DNA sequence diversity in genes in the partially sex-linked pseudoautosomal region (PAR) of the sex chromosomes of the plant Silene latifolia is higher than expected from within-species diversity of other genes. This could be the footprint of sexually antagonistic (SA) alleles that are maintained by balancing selection in a PAR gene (or genes) and affect polymorphism in linked genome regions. SA selection is predicted to occur during sex chromosome evolution, but it is important to test whether the unexpectedly high sequence polymorphism could be explained without it, purely by the combined effects of partial linkage with the sex-determining region and the population's demographic history, including possible introgression from Silene dioica. To test this, we applied approximate Bayesian computation-based model choice to autosomal sequence diversity data, to find the most plausible scenario for the recent history of S. latifolia and then to estimate the posterior density of the most relevant parameters. We then used these densities to simulate variation to be expected at PAR genes. We conclude that an excess of variants at high frequencies at PAR genes should arise in S. latifolia populations only for genes with strong associations with fully sex-linked genes, which requires closer linkage with the fully sex-linked region than that estimated for the PAR genes where apparent deviations from neutrality were observed. These results support the need to invoke selection to explain the S. latifolia PAR gene diversity, and encourage further work to test the possibility of balancing selection due to sexual antagonism.