Paternal effects on the expression of a male polyphenism

Bruno A. Buzatto*, Leigh W. Simmons, Joseph L. Tomkins

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Polyphenic traits are widespread, but compared to other traits, relatively few studies have explored the mechanisms that influence their inheritance. Here we investigated the relative importance of additive, nonadditive genetic, and parental sources of variation in the expression of polyphenic male dimorphism in the mite Rhizoglyphus echinopus, a species in which males are either fighters or scramblers. We established eight inbred lines through eight generations of full-sibling matings, and then crossed the inbred lines in a partial diallel design. Nymphs were isolated and raised to adulthood with ad libitum food. At adulthood, male morph was recorded for all male offspring. Using a CockerhamWeir model, we found strong paternal effects for this polyphenic trait that could be either linked to the Y chromosome of males or an indirect genetic effect that is environmentally transmitted. In additional analyses, we were able to corroborate the paternal effects but also detected significant additive effects questioning the CockerhamWeir analysis. This study reveals the potential importance of paternal effects on the expression of polyphenic traits and sheds light on the complex genetic architecture of these traits.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3167-3178
Number of pages12
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • alternative reproductive tactics
  • conditional strategy
  • intrasexual dimorphism
  • male dimorphism
  • phenotypic plasticity
  • threshold trait


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