Alleles of sexually antagonistic genes (i.e., genes with alleles affecting fitness in opposite directions in the two sexes) can avoid expression in the sex to which they are detrimental via two processes: they are subsumed into the nonrecombining, sex-determining portion of the sex chromosomes or they evolve sex-limited expression. The former is considered more likely and leads to Y-chromosome degeneration. We mapped quantitative trait loci of major effect for sexually dimorphic traits of Silene latifolia to the recombining portions of the sex chromosomes and found them to exhibit sex-specific expression, with the Y chromosome in males controlling a relatively larger proportion of genetic variance than the X in females and the average autosome. Both reproductive and ecophysiological traits map to the recombining region of the sex chromosomes. We argue that genetic correlations among traits maintain recombination and polymorphism for these genes because of balancing selection in males, whereas sex-limited expression represses detrimental alleles in females. Our data suggest that the Y chromosome of S. latifolia plays a major role in the control of key metabolic activities beyond reproductive functions.
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