Immonen E, Sayadi A, Bayram H, Arnqvist G
Genome Biol Evol 9 (3) 677-699 [2017-03-01; online 2017-04-10]
Sexually dimorphic phenotypes arise largely from sex-specific gene expression, which has mainly been characterized in sexually naïve adults. However, we expect sexual dimorphism in transcription to be dynamic and dependent on factors such as reproductive status. Mating induces many behavioral and physiological changes distinct to each sex and is therefore expected to activate regulatory changes in many sex-biased genes. Here, we first characterized sexual dimorphism in gene expression in Callosobruchus maculatus seed beetles. We then examined how females and males respond to mating and how it affects sex-biased expression, both in sex-limited (abdomen) and sex-shared (head and thorax) tissues. Mating responses were largely sex-specific and, as expected, females showed more genes responding compared with males (∼2,000 vs. ∼300 genes in the abdomen, ∼500 vs. ∼400 in the head and thorax, respectively). Of the sex-biased genes present in virgins, 16% (1,041 genes) in the abdomen and 17% (243 genes) in the head and thorax altered their relative expression between the sexes as a result of mating. Sex-bias status changed in 2% of the genes in the abdomen and 4% in the head and thorax following mating. Mating responses involved de-feminization of females and, to a lesser extent, de-masculinization of males relative to their virgin state: mating decreased rather than increased dimorphic expression of sex-biased genes. The fact that regulatory changes of both types of sex-biased genes occurred in both sexes suggests that male- and female-specific selection is not restricted to male- and female-biased genes, respectively, as is sometimes assumed.