The absence of continued evolutionary change despite the presence of genetic variation and directional selection is very common. Genetic correlations between traits can reduce the evolvability of traits. One intriguing example might be found in a sexual conflict over sexually dimorphic traits: a common genetic architecture constrains the response to selection on a trait subjected to sexually asymmetric selection pressures. Here we show that males and females of the mealworm beetle Tenebrio molitor differ in the quantitative genetic architecture of four traits related to immune defense and condition. Moreover, high genetic correlations between the sexes constitute a genetic constraint to the evolution of sexual dimorphism in immune defense. Our results suggest a general mechanism by which sexual conflict can promote evolutionary stasis. We furthermore show negative genetic correlations, strong indications of trade-offs, between immune traits for two pairs of traits in females.
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Vol. 59 • No. 8