Wider research context / theoretical framework

Sexual dimorphism is a ubiquitous phenomenon in many organisms and reflects different selection pressure on males and females. When sex-specific selection favors opposing trait values in females and males, it can generate a conflict between the sexes. 

Hypotheses/research questions/objectives

Preparatory work uncovered very interesting aspects of sex-specific selection. Exposing natural Drosophila simulans populations to a novel hot temperature regime uncovered sex-specific changes in high-level phenotypes for one population from Florida, while in the population from Portugal both sexes responded in the same direction. These results suggest that a potential intra-locus sexual conflict had already been resolved in the Florida but not in the Portugal population. Gene expression analysis of the Florida experiment found more than 200 genes with sexually antagonistic gene expression evolution-i.e. the expression changed after 100 generations in the new environment in different direction in males and females. In addition, sex-specific evolution in gene expression related to neuronal signaling was found. The proposed project joins forces from an interdisciplinary team of scientists to address the requirements, mechanisms and consequences of sexual conflict resolution (Florida) experiment and the lack thereof (Portugal). 


The team will use state of the art molecular phenotyping consisting of transcriptomics, proteomics, metabolomics and single-cell sequencing. High level phenotypes like behavior, activity and respiration will be analyzed and competitive fitness assays will be performed. 

Interdisciplinary approach

Innovative statistical models will allow for the integration of the different levels of phenotypic data. This integration of molecular and high-level phenotyping approaches will  characterize sexual conflict at the highest possible resolution.

Level of originality / innovation

The proposed project will provide a significant advance in evolutionary biology and population genetics by characterizing both, resolved and ongoing sexual conflict in unprecedented detail.


The researchers involved in this project are a team with diverse and complementary background. They combine expertise in gene expression analysis (Scott Allen), proteomics  (Kathrin Otte), metabolomics (Gerlinde Grabmann), high-level phenotyping (Neda Barghi) and statistical modeling (Rui Borges). All team members have experience with working in multidisciplinary teams and possess advanced bioinformatics skills, which enables them to analyze the large data sets generated in the project. 




Institute of Population Genetics
1210 Vienna, Veterinärplatz 1
Building HA, 4th floor

T +43 1 25077-4301
F +43 1 25077-4390

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