Post-copulatory sexual selection has been proposed to drive the rapid evolution of reproductive proteins, and, more recently, to increase genome-wide mutation rates. Comparisons of rates of molecular evolution between lineages with different levels of female multiple mating represent a promising, but under-utilized, approach for testing the effects of sperm competition on sequence evolution. Here, I use comparisons between primate species with divergent mating systems to examine the effects of sperm competition on reproductive protein evolution, as well as on sex-averaged mutation rates. Rates of nonsynonymous substitution are higher for testis-specific genes along the chimpanzee lineage in comparison to the human lineage, consistent with expectations. However, the data reported here do not allow firm conclusions concerning the effects of mating system on genome-wide mutation rates, with different results obtained from different species pairs. Ultimately, comparative studies encompassing a range of mating systems and other life history traits will be required to make broad generalizations concerning the genomic effects of sperm competition.

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Department of Biology

Wong, A. (2010). Testing the effects of mating system variation on rates of molecular evolution in primates. Evolution, 64(9), 2779–2785. doi:10.1111/j.1558-5646.2010.01038.x