axis. Rapid evolution of conflicting X-linked and autosomal genes may cause divergence between populations and speciation.
Pathologies often arise from perturbations of evolutionary conflict. In conflict between different components of the genome, the opposing genes push in opposite directions on a particular trait, such as sex ratio or offspring growth rate (Burt and Trivers, 2006). The regulation of such traits under conflict becomes dominated by a balance of opposing forces. This precarious regulatory balance contrasts with the typically supposed design of regulation to achieve efficient and robust expression (Foster, 2011; Werren, Chapter 10, this volume). Mutation or knockout of one side in the conflict leads to the other side dominating expression, often pushing the trait to an extreme in the absence of the opposing force. Extreme expression typically causes pathology.
In this chapter, we develop the idea of pathology arising from perturbations to evolutionary conflicts. We discuss several examples of evolutionary conflicts, the ways in which conflict may lead to exaggerated opposition of forces on a trait, and the occasional breakdown in the normal balance of opposing forces that leads to pathology. We also present a theory of evolutionary conflict between X-linked and autosomal genes over traits that differ in their consequences for male and female fitness. Perturbations to the X–autosome conflict may lead to pathologies of extreme expression along a male–female continuum in trait expression.
The first section develops the general concept of pathology arising from evolutionary conflict. Although the evolutionary dynamics and mechanistic constraints vary greatly between cases, pathology seems likely to increase with the difference between the optimal phenotypic values favored by the conflicting parties. The difference in conflicting fitnesses sets the potential instability of regulatory control built from opposing forces. The degree of pathology in particular cases also increases with the rarity of pathological expression, because rarity reduces the intensity of selection. Weaker selection allows greater exaggeration of opposing forces between conflicting parties, creating greater instability and pathology when the uneasy balance between strongly opposing forces does break down.
The second section analyzes the pathology of mammals derived from growth-related conflicts between paternal and maternal components of the genome (Haig, 2010). Several regulatory control networks of growth do appear to be a conflict between exaggerated paternal enhancers of growth and opposing maternal brakes on growth rate. We consider pathologies arising from imbalances between these strongly opposing