Sex-ratio adjustment in response to local mate competition is achieved through an alteration of egg size in a haplodiploid spider mite
Macke, Emilie × Magalhaes, Sara Bach, Fabien Olivieri, Isabelle #
Printed for the Royal Society and sold by Harrison & Sons
Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Biological Sciences vol:279 issue:1747 pages:4634-4642
Sex-ratio adjustments are commonly observed in haplodiploid species. However, the underlying proximate mechanisms remain elusive. We investigated these mechanisms in Tetranychus urticae, a haplodiploid spider mite known to adjust sex ratio in response to the level of local mate competition (LMC). In this species, egg size determines fertilization probability, with larger eggs being more likely to be fertilized, and thus become female. We explored the hypothesis that sex-ratio adjustment is achieved through adjustment of egg size. By using spider mites from a large population, we found that females produced not only a higher proportion of daughters under high levels of LMC, but also larger eggs. Moreover, in populations experimentally evolving under varying levels of LMC, both the proportion of females and the egg size increased with LMC intensity. These results suggest that sex-ratio adjustment in spider mites is mediated by egg size, although the causal relationship remains to be tested.