In sexual reproduction the genetic similarity or dissimilarity between mates strongly affects offspring fitness. When mating partners are too closely related, increased homozygosity generally causes inbreeding depression, whereas crossing between too distantly related individuals may disrupt local adaptations or coadaptations within the genome and result in outbreeding depression. The optimal degree of inbreeding or outbreeding depends on population structure. A long history of inbreeding is expected to reduce inbreeding depression due to purging of deleterious alleles, and to promote outbreeding depression because of increased genetic variation between lineages. Ambrosia beetles (Xyleborini) are bark beetles with haplodiploid sex determination, strong local mate competition due to regular sibling mating within the natal chamber, and heavily biased sex ratios. We experimentally mated females of Xylosandrus germanus to brothers and unrelated males and measured offspring fitness. Inbred matings did not produce offspring with reduced fitness in any of the examined life-history traits. In contrast, outcrossed offspring suffered from reduced hatching rates. Reduction in inbreeding depression is usually attributed to purging of deleterious alleles, and the absence of inbreeding depression in X. germanus may represent the highest degree of purging of all examined species so far. Outbreeding depression within the same population has previously only been reported from plants. The causes and consequences of our findings are discussed with respect to mating strategies, sex ratios, and speciation in this unusual system.
Vol. 59 • No. 2
Vol. 59 • No. 2