Intrinsic emergence and modulation of sex-specific dominance reversals in threshold traits

Jane Reid* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Sex-specific dominance reversals (SSDRs) in fitness-related traits, where heterozygotes’ phenotypes resemble those of alternative homozygotes in females versus males, can simultaneously maintain genetic variation in fitness and resolve sexual conflict and thereby shape key evolutionary outcomes. Yet, the full implications of SSDRs will depend on how they arise and the resulting potential for evolutionary, ecological and environmental modulation.
Recent field and laboratory studies demonstrate SSDRs in threshold(-like) traits with dichotomous or competitive phenotypic outcomes, implying that such traits could promote emergence of SSDRs. But, such possibilities have not been explicitly examined. I show how phenotypic SSDRs can readily emerge in threshold traits given genetic architectures involving large-effect loci alongside sexual dimorphism in the mean and variance in polygenic liability. I also show how multi-locus SSDRs can arise in line-cross experiments, especially given competitive reproductive systems that generate non-linear fitness outcomes. SSDRs can consequently emerge in threshold(-like) traits, as functions of sexual antagonism, sexual dimorphism and reproductive systems, even with purely additive underlying genetic effects. Accordingly, I identify theoretical and empirical advances that are now required to discern the basis and occurrence of SSDRs in nature, probe forms of (co-)evolutionary, ecological and environmental modulation, and evaluate net impacts on sexual conflict.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1924-1941
Number of pages18
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2022

Bibliographical note

The author thanks Karl Grieshop, Geir Bolstad, Greta Bocedi, Debora Goedert, Astrid Raunsgard, Jennifer Morinay and Anders Poulsen-Charmouh for helpful comments and discussions and NTNU and the Norwegian Research Council (Centre of Excellence grant 223257) for funding.

Data Availability Statement

There are no primary data associated with this conceptual manuscript. The R code underlying the illustrative figures is provided as Supporting Information.


  • sex-specific dominance reversal
  • sexual antagonism
  • sexual conflict
  • sexual dimorphism
  • threshold trait


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