Experiments confirm a dispersive phenotype associated with a natural gene drive system

J.-N. Runge and A. K. Lindholm,  Royal Society Open Science,  8:202050. 2021.

Meiotic drivers are genetic entities that increase their own probability of being transmitted to offspring, usually to the detriment of the rest of the organism, thus ‘selfishly’ increasing their fitness. In many meiotic drive systems, driver-carrying males are less successful in sperm competition, which occurs when females mate with multiple males in one oestrus cycle (polyandry). How do drivers respond to this selection? An observational study found that house mice carrying the t haplotype, a meiotic driver, are more likely to disperse from dense populations. This could help the t avoid detrimental sperm competition, because density is associated with the frequency of polyandry. However, no controlled experiments have been conducted to test these findings. Here, we confirm that carriers of the t haplotype are more dispersive, but we do not find this to depend on the local density. t-carriers with above-average body weight were particularly more likely to disperse than wild-type mice. t-carrying mice were also more explorative but not more active than wild-type mice. These results add experimental support to the previous observational finding that the t haplotype affects the dispersal phenotype in house mice, which supports the hypothesis that dispersal reduces the fitness costs of the t.

More related to this

Segregation distortion of mouse t-haplotypes: The molecular basis emerges

Sex-ratio segregation distortion associated with reproductive isolation in Drosophila

Low frequency of mouse t haplotypes in wild populations is not explained by modifiers of meiotic drive

Effects of a male meiotic driver on male and female transcriptomes in the house mouse