Sex-Specific Correlations of Individual Heterozygosity, Parasite Load, and Scalation Asymmetry in a Sexually Dichromatic Lizard

Pei Jen L. Shaner, Ying Ru Chen, Jhan Wei Lin, Jason J. Kolbe, Si Min Lin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Heterozygosity-fitness correlations (HFCs) provide insights into the genetic bases of individual fitness variation in natural populations. However, despite decades of study, the biological significance of HFCs is still under debate. In this study, we investigated HFCs in a large population of the sexually dimorphic lizard Takydromus viridipunctatus (Lacertidae). Because of the high prevalence of parasitism from trombiculid mites in this lizard, we expect individual fitness (i.e., survival) to decrease with increasing parasite load. Furthermore, because morphological asymmetry is likely to influence individuals' mobility (i.e., limb asymmetry) and male biting ability during copulation (i.e., head asymmetry) in this species, we also hypothesize that individual fitness should decrease with increasing morphological asymmetry. Although we did not formally test the relationship between morphological asymmetry and fitness in this lizard, we demonstrated that survival decreased with increasing parasite load using a capture-mark-recapture data set. We used a separate sample of 140 lizards to test the correlations between individual heterozygosity (i.e., standardized mean d2 and HL based on 10 microsatellite loci) and the two fitness traits (i.e., parasite load and morphological asymmetry). We also evaluated and excluded the possibility that single-locus effects produced spurious HFCs. Our results suggest male-only, negative correlations between individual heterozygosity and parasite load and between individual heterozygosity and asymmetry, suggesting sex-specific, positive HFCs. Male T. viridipunctatus with higher heterozygosity tend to have lower parasite loads (i.e., higher survival) and lower asymmetry, providing a rare example of HFC in reptiles.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere56720
JournalPloS one
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Feb 25

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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