A comparative test of a theory for the evolution of anisogamy

J P Randerson, L D Hurst

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36 Citations (SciVal)


Why are sperm small and eggs large? The dominant explanation for the evolution of gamete size dimorphism envisages two opposing selection pressures acting on gamete size: small gametes are favoured because many can be produced, whereas large gametes contribute to a large zygote with consequently increased survival chances. This model predicts disruptive selection on gamete size (i.e. selection for anisogamy) if increases in zygote size confer disproportional increases in fitness (at least over part of its size range. It therefore predicts that increases in adult size should be accompanied by stronger selection for anisogamy Using data from the green algal order Volvocales, we provide the first phylogenetically controlled test of the models predictions using a published phylogeny and a new phylogeny derived by a different method. The predictions that larger organisms should iii have a greater degree of gamete dimorphism and (ii) have larger eggs are broadly upheld. However, the results are highly sensitive to the phylogeny and the mode of analysis used.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)879-884
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1469
Publication statusPublished - 2001


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