Association of polyandry and sex-ratio drive prevalence in natural populations of Drosophila neotestacea

Pinzone, CAD, K. A.,  Proceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences,  280:20131397. 2013.

Selfish genetic elements bias their own transmission to the next generation, even at the expense of the fitness of their carrier. Sex-ratio (SR) meiotic drive occurs when an X-chromosome causes Y-bearing sperm to die during male spermatogenesis, so that it is passed on to all of the male’s offspring, which are all daughters. How SR is maintained as a stable polymorphism in the absence of genetic suppressors of drive is unknown. Here, we investigate the potential for the female remating rate to affect SR dynamics in natural populations, using the fly Drosophila neotestacea. In controlled laboratory conditions, females from populations where SR is rare mate more often than females from populations where SR is common. Furthermore, only when males mate multiply does the average fertility of SR males relative to wild-type males decrease to a level that can prevent SR from spreading. Our results suggest that differences in the female mating rate among populations may contribute to SR dynamics in the wild, and thus also affect the outcome of this intragenomic conflict. In line with this, we also present evidence of a localized population crash due to SR that may have resulted from habitat fragmentation along with a reduced mating rate.