Sexual dimorphism is a fascinating subject in evolutionary biology and mostly results from sex-biased expression of genes, which have been shown to evolve faster in gonochoristic species. We report here genome and sex-specific transcriptome sequencing of Sparus aurata, a sequential hermaphrodite fish. Evolutionary comparative analysis reveals that sex-biased genes in S. aurata are similar in number and function, but evolved following strikingly divergent patterns compared with gonochoristic species, showing overall slower rates because of stronger functional constraints. Fast evolution is observed only for highly ovary-biased genes due to female-specific patterns of selection that are related to the peculiar reproduction mode of S. aurata, first maturing as male, then as female. To our knowledge, these findings represent the first genome-wide analysis on sex-biased loci in a hermaphrodite vertebrate species, demonstrating how having two sexes in the same individual profoundly affects the fate of a large set of evolutionarily relevant genes.
Journal: Communications biology