Trait decay may occur when selective pressures shift, owing to changes in environment or life style, rendering formerly adaptive traits non-functional or even maladaptive. It remains largely unknown if such decay would stem from multiple mutations with small effects or rather involve few loci with major phenotypic effects. Here, we investigate the decay of female sexual traits, and the genetic causes thereof, in a transition from haplodiploid sexual reproduction to endosymbiont-induced asexual reproduction in the parasitoid wasp Asobara japonica. We take advantage of the fact that asexual females cured of their endosymbionts produce sons instead of daughters, and that these sons can be crossed with sexual females. By combining behavioral experiments with crosses designed to introgress alleles from the asexual into the sexual genome, we found that sexual attractiveness, mating, egg fertilization and plastic adjustment of offspring sex ratio (in response to variation in local mate competition) are decayed in asexual A. japonica females. Furthermore, introgression experiments revealed that the propensity for cured asexual females to produce only sons (because of decayed sexual attractiveness, mating behavior and/or egg fertilization) is likely caused by recessive genetic effects at a single locus. Recessive effects were also found to cause decay of plastic sex-ratio adjustment under variable levels of local mate competition. Our results suggest that few recessive mutations drive decay of female sexual traits, at least in asexual species deriving from haplodiploid sexual ancestors.
Data from: Genetics of decayed sexual traits in a parasitoid wasp with endosymbiont-induced asexuality