Pleiotropic Effects of DDT Resistance on Male Size and Behaviour

Behavior Genetics, May 2017

Understanding the evolution and spread of insecticide resistance requires knowing the relative fitness of resistant organisms. In the absence of insecticides, resistance is predicted to be costly. The Drosophila melanogaster DDT resistance allele (DDT-R) is associated with a male mating cost. This could be because resistant males are generally smaller, but DDT-R may also alter courtship behaviours. Here we tested for body size and courtship effects of DDT-R on mating success in competitive and non-competitive mating trials respectively. We also assessed relative aggression in resistant and susceptible males because aggression can also influence mating success. While the effect of DDT-R on male size partly contributed to reduced mating success, resistant males also had lower rates of courtship and were less aggressive than susceptible males. These differences contribute to the observed DDT-R mating costs. Additionally, these pleiotropic effects of DDT-R are consistent with the history and spread of resistance alleles in nature.

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Pleiotropic Effects of DDT Resistance on Male Size and Behaviour

Understanding the evolution and spread of insecticide resistance requires knowing the relative fitness of resistant organisms. In the absence of insecticides, resistance is predicted to be costly. The Drosophila melanogaster DDT resistance allele (DDT-R) is associated with a male mating cost. This could be because resistant males are generally smaller, but DDT-R may also alter courtship behaviours. Here we tested for body size and courtship effects of DDT-R on mating success in competitive and non-competitive mating trials respectively. We also assessed relative aggression in resistant and susceptible males because aggression can also influence mating success. While the effect of DDT-R on male size partly contributed to reduced mating success, resistant males also had lower rates of courtship and were less aggressive than susceptible males. These differences contribute to the observed DDT-R mating costs. Additionally, these pleiotropic effects of DDT-R are consistent with the history and spread of resistance alleles in nature.


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Wayne G. Rostant, Jemima Bowyer, Jack Coupland, James Facey, David J. Hosken, Nina Wedell. Pleiotropic Effects of DDT Resistance on Male Size and Behaviour, Behavior Genetics, 2017, 449-458, DOI: 10.1007/s10519-017-9850-6