Sexual selection expedites the evolution of pesticide resistance

2x2 experimental evolution design.


The evolution of insecticide resistance by crop pests and disease vectors causes serious problems for agriculture and health. Sexual selection can accelerate or hinder adaptation to abiotic challenges in a variety of ways, but the effect of sexual selection on resistance evolution is little studied. Here, we examine this question using experimental evolution in the pest insect Tribolium castaneum. The experimental removal of sexual selection slowed the evolution of resistance in populations treated with pyrethroid pesticide, and also reduced the rate at which resistance was lost from pesticide-free populations. These results suggest that selection arising from variance in mating and fertilization success can augment natural selection on pesticide resistance, meaning that sexual selection should be considered when designing strategies to limit the evolution of pesticide resistance.