Genetic changes conferring adaptation to a new environment may induce a fitness cost in the previous environment. Although this prediction has been verified in laboratory conditions, few studies have tried to document this cost directly in natural populations. Here, we evaluated the pleiotropic effects of insecticide resistance on putative fitness components of the mosquito Culex pipiens. Experiments using different larval densities were performed during the summer in two natural breeding sites. Two loci that possess alleles conferring organophosphate (OP) resistance were considered: ace-1 coding for an acetylcholinesterase (AChE1, the OP target) and Ester, a “super locus” including two closely linked loci coding for esterases A and B. Resistance ace-1 alleles coding for a modified AChE1 were associated with a longer development time and shorter wing length. The pleiotropic effects of two resistance alleles Ester1 and Ester4 coding for the overproduced esterases A1 and A4-B4, respectively, were more variable. Both A1 and A4-B4 reduced wing length, although only A1 was associated with a longer preimaginal stage. The fluctuating asymmetry (FA) of the wing did not respond to the presence or to the interaction of resistance alleles at the two loci at any of the density levels tested. Conversely, the FA of one wing section decreased when larval density increased. This may be the consequence of selection against less developmentally stable individuals. The results are discussed in relation to the local evolution of insecticide resistance genes.
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