The coevolution of male and female genitalia in a mammal: A quantitative genetic insight

Gonçalo I. André, Renée C. Firman, Leigh W. Simmons

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Male genitalia are among the most phenotypically diverse morphological traits, and sexual selection is widely accepted as being responsible for their evolutionary divergence. Studies of house mice suggest that the shape of the baculum (penis bone) affects male reproductive fitness and experimentally imposed postmating sexual selection has been shown to drive divergence in baculum shape across generations. Much less is known of the morphology of female genitalia and its coevolution with male genitalia. In light of this, we used a paternal half-sibling design to explore patterns of additive genetic variation and covariation underlying baculum shape and female vaginal tract size in house mice (Mus musculus domesticus). We applied a landmark-based morphometrics approach to measure baculum size and shape in males and the length of the vaginal tract and width of the cervix in females. Our results reveal significant additive genetic variation in house mouse baculum morphology and cervix width, as well as evidence for genetic covariation between male and female genital measures. Our data thereby provide novel insight into the potential for the coevolutionary divergence of male and female genital traits in a mammal.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1558-1567
Number of pages10
Issue number7
Early online date3 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2020


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