An association between quantitative variation of rDNA on the Y chromosome and male expression of the juvenilized, adult cuticle of the abnormal abdomen syndrome has been found for Drosophila mercatorum. Many pleiotropic effects of this syndrome have been described previously for females, but little was known about possible pleiotropic effects in males. The effects on males open up new avenues for the action of natural selection operating on the system. In females, the syndrome causes an increase in egg-to-adult development time, precocious sexual maturation, increased fecundity and decreased longevity. In addition to the cuticle phenotype, in males abnormal abdomen causes delayed sexual maturation, increased longevity, and decreased mating success, yet no change in egg-to-adult development time. Thus the syndrome has opposing fitness effects in the two sexes, which may help explain the genetic polymorphism observed in this system. Although investigated intensively, associations between naturally occurring Y-linked polymorphism and fitness phenotypes have not been found in Drosophila melanogaster.
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