Abstracts (first author)
The influence of cyto-nuclear interactions on life-history traits and behaviour
Despite the longstanding perception of the selective neutrality of mitochondrial genes, there is a growing awareness of their influence on life-history traits via interaction with the nuclear genome. Due to their effect on traits such as metabolism and growth rates, cyto-nuclear interactions are affecting variation predicted to explain the evolution of behavioural types or personalities (i.e. behavioural variation that is consistent within individuals, but differs among individuals). However, while cyto-nuclear interactions have significant potential to explain variation in behaviours, this line of research remains poorly explored. We used nine cyto-nuclear integression lines, where three cytoplasmic genomes were introgressed into three nuclear backgrounds, to disentangle genetic effects on both life-history traits and behavioural variation in the seed beetle (Callosobruchus maculatus). We show that life-span, but also activity of individuals in behavioural assays are influenced by the interaction of nuclear and cytoplasmic genes. Variation in activity level is consistent among individual beetles, suggesting that intergenomic interactions can also explain variation in animal personality. These results advance our understanding of the functionality of mitochondrial genes and their non-neutrality, and highlight the importance of cyto-nuclear interactions in explaining variation in behaviour and personality.