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    Even as numerous studies have documented that the red and yellow coloration resulting from the deposition of carotenoids serves as an honest signal of condition, the evolution of condition dependency is contentious. The resource trade‐off hypothesis proposes that condition‐dependent honest signalling relies on a trade‐off of resources between ornamental display and body maintenance. By this model, condition dependency can evolve through selection for a re‐allocation of resources to promote ornament expression. By contrast, the index hypothesis proposes that selection focuses mate choice on carotenoid coloration that is inherently condition dependent because production of such coloration is inexorably tied to vital cellular processes. These hypotheses for the origins of condition dependency make strongly contrasting and testable predictions about ornamental traits. To assess these two models, we review the mechanisms of production of carotenoids, patterns of condition dependency involving different classes of carotenoids, and patterns of behavioural responses to carotenoid coloration. We review evidence that traits can be condition dependent without the influence of sexual selection and that novel traits can show condition‐dependent expression as soon as they appear in a population, without the possibility of sexual selection. We conclude by highlighting new opportunities for studying condition‐dependent signalling made possible by genetic manipulation and expression of ornamental traits in synthetic biological systems.

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  2. Dam, Hans G. (Ed.)
    The marine copepod, Tigriopus californicus , produces the red carotenoid pigment astaxanthin from yellow dietary precursors. This ‘bioconversion’ of yellow carotenoids to red is hypothesized to be linked to individual condition, possibly through shared metabolic pathways with mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation. Experimental inter-population crosses of lab-reared T . californicus typically produces low-fitness hybrids is due in large part to the disruption of coadapted sets nuclear and mitochondrial genes within the parental populations. These hybrid incompatibilities can increase variability in life history traits and energy production among hybrid lines. Here, we tested if production of astaxanthin was compromised in hybrid copepods and if it was linked to mitochondrial metabolism and offspring development. We observed no clear mitonuclear dysfunction in hybrids fed a limited, carotenoid-deficient diet of nutritional yeast. However, when yellow carotenoids were restored to their diet, hybrid lines produced less astaxanthin than parental lines. We observed that lines fed a yeast diet produced less ATP and had slower offspring development compared to lines fed a more complete diet of algae, suggesting the yeast-only diet may have obscured effects of mitonuclear dysfunction. Astaxanthin production was not significantly associated with development among lines fed a yeast diet but was negatively related to development in early generation hybrids fed an algal diet. In lines fed yeast, astaxanthin was negatively related to ATP synthesis, but in lines fed algae, the relationship was reversed. Although the effects of the yeast diet may have obscured evidence of hybrid dysfunction, these results suggest that astaxanthin bioconversion may still be related to mitochondrial performance and reproductive success. 
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  3. null (Ed.)
    Mitochondrial (mt) respiration depends on proteins encoded both by the mitochondrial and nuclear genomes. Variation in mt-DNA mutation rates exists across eukaryotes, although the functional consequences of elevated mt mutation rates in some lineages remain underexplored. In the angiosperm genus Silene , closely related, ecologically similar species have either ‘fast' or ‘slow' mt-DNA mutation rates. Here, we investigated the functional consequences of elevated mt-DNA mutation rates on mt respiration profiles of Silene mitochondria. Overall levels of respiration were similar among Species. Fast species had lower respiration efficiency than slow species and relied up to 48% more on nuclear-encoded respiratory enzymes alternative oxidase (AOX) and accessory dehydrogenases (DHex), which participate in stress responses in plants. However, not all fast species showed these trends. Respiratory profiles of some enzymes were correlated, most notably AOX and DHex. We conclude that subtle differences in mt physiology among Silene lineages with dramatically different mt mutation rates may underly similar phenotypes at higher levels of biological organization, betraying the consequences of mt mutations. 
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  4. Abstract The environment in which eukaryotes first evolved was drastically different from what they experience today, and one of the key limiting factors was the availability of oxygen for mitochondrial respiration. During the transition to a fully oxygenated Earth, other compounds such as sulfide posed a considerable constraint on using mitochondrial aerobic respiration for energy production. The ancestors of animals, and those that first evolved from the simpler eukaryotes have mitochondrial respiratory components that are absent from later-evolving animals. Specifically, mitochondria of most basal metazoans have a sulfide-resistant alternative oxidase (AOX), which provides a secondary oxidative pathway to the classical cytochrome pathway. In this essay, I argue that because of its resistance to sulfide, AOX respiration was critical to the evolution of animals by enabling oxidative metabolism under otherwise inhibitory conditions. I hypothesize that AOX allowed for metabolic flexibility during the stochastic oxygen environment of early Earth which shaped the evolution of basal metazoans. I briefly describe the known functions of AOX, with a particular focus on the decreased production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) during stress conditions. Then, I propose three evolutionary consequences of AOX-mediated protection from ROS observed in basal metazoans: 1) adaptation to stressful environments, 2) the persistence of facultative sexual reproduction, and 3) decreased mitochondrial DNA mutation rates. Recognizing the diversity of mitochondrial respiratory systems present in animals may help resolve the mechanisms involved in major evolutionary processes such as adaptation and speciation. 
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