Behaviour 2019
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A mitochondrial DNA mutation decreases competitive mating success in male fruit flies
Rebecca Koch, Damian Dowling. Monash University, Melbourne, VIC, Australia

Mitochondria have long been understood to be critical to cellular function, but questions remain as to how variation in mitochondrial performance scales with variation in general metrics of organismal function. To date, studies of the effects of mitochondrial genetic variation on phenotype have largely focused on life-history traits. However, mating display behaviors are also expected to be sensitive to mitochondrial functionality and therefore may also be affected by variation in mitochondrial DNA, with consequences for sexual selection and fitness. Here, we tested whether the pre-copulatory mating success of male fruit flies varies with mitochondrial haplotype. We found that males possessing one haplotype were less likely to achieve copulations in a competitive mate choice assay than males harboring other haplotypes. This haplotype has previously been shown to cause depressed fertility in males, but otherwise normal functionality in both sexes. Our results demonstrate that a mutation in mitochondrial DNA can affect pre-copulatory mating success, with implications for the subcellular underpinnings of such behaviors and the information they may communicate.