Haploid selection in animals: Exploring the fitness consequences and underlying mechanisms

  • Datum:
  • Plats: Lindahlsalen, Norbyvagen 18d, Uppsala
  • Doktorand: Alavioon, Ghazal
  • Om avhandlingen
  • Arrangör: Institutionen för ekologi och genetik
  • Kontaktperson: Alavioon, Ghazal
  • Disputation


A consequence of sexual reproduction in eukaryotes is the evolution of a biphasic life cycle with alternating diploid and haploid gametic phases. While our focus in evolutionary biology is on selection during the diploid phase, we know relatively little about selection occurring during the haploid gametic stage. This is particularly true in predominantly diploid animals, where gene expression and hence selection have long been thought to be absent in haploid cells like gametes and particularly sperm. During my PhD, I tested the idea of selection during the haploid gametic phase using zebrafish Danio rario as a study species. I combined a large-scale selection experiment over three generations with fitness assays and next-generation sequencing to assess the importance of haploid selection. We measured offspring fitness in all three generations.  In addition, we compared gene expression in brain and testes of F1 and F3 adult male from each treatment by RNA sequencing. We found that offspring sired by longer-lived sperm showed higher survival rate and higher early- and late-life reproductive fitness compared to offspring sired by shorter-lived sperm. We also found differentially expressed genes between the two treatments with functions in metabolic and developmental pathways. These findings suggest that the observed fitness differences to be caused by small expression changes in many basic genes. We also tested for a genetic underpinning of the selected sperm phenotypes and identified allelic differences across the entire genome. Finally, we investigated the additive genetic component and parental effect of different sperm phenotypes. We found generally low additive genetic variation and high parental effects on sperm performance traits. In conclusion, this thesis provides evidence that the phenotypic variation among intact fertile sperm within an ejaculate affects offspring fitness throughout life and provides a clear link between sperm phenotype and offspring fitness and between sperm phenotype and sperm genotype.