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The rapid evolutionary divergence of male genital structures under sexual selection is well documented. However, variation in female genital traits and the potential for sexual conflict to drive the coevolution between male and female traits has only recently received attention. In many lepidopterans, females possess genital teeth (collectively, signa). Comparative studies suggest these teeth, involved in the deflation of spermatophores, may have coevolved with male spermatophore thickness via sexually antagonistic coevolution in a contest over the rate of deflation of spermatophores within the reproductive tract. We tested the hypothesis that sexual conflict should generate coevolution between genital teeth and spermatophore morphology by examining these traits under experimental manipulation of sexual conflict intensity. Using micro-CT scanning, we examined spermatophore and teeth morphology in populations of the Indian moth, Plodia interpunctella, which had been evolving for 110 generations under different adult sex-ratio biases. We found divergence in female signa morphology in response to sexual conflict: females from female-biased populations (reduced sexual conflict) developed wider signa. However, we found no evidence of coevolution between signa traits and spermatophore thickness as reported from comparative studies.
Data from: Experimental evolution reveals divergence in female genital teeth morphology in response to sexual conflict intensity in a moth
McNamara, K. B. (Creator), Dougherty, L. R. (Creator), Wedell, N. (Creator) & Simmons, L. (Creator), Dryad Digital Repository, 1 Mar 2019