Autosomal suppression and fitness costs of an old driving X chromosome in Drosophila testacea

G. Keais, S. Lu and S. Perlman,  Journal of Evolutionary Biology,  2020.

Driving X chromosomes (XDs) are meiotic drivers that bias their own transmission through males by killing Y-bearing gametes. These chromosomes can in theory spread rapidly in populations and cause extinction, but many are found as balanced polymorphisms or as ?cryptic? XDs shut down by drive suppressors. The relative likelihood of these outcomes, as well as the evolutionary pathways through which they come about, are not well-understood. An XD was recently discovered in the mycophagous fly, Drosophila testacea, presenting the opportunity to compare this XD with the well-studied XD of its sister species, Drosophila neotestacea. Comparing features of independently evolved XDs in young sister species is a promising avenue towards understanding how XDs and their counteracting forces change over time. In contrast to the XD of D. neotestacea, we find that the XD of D. testacea is old, with its origin predating the radiation of three species: D. testacea, D. neotestacea, and their shared sister species, Drosophila orientacea. Motivated by the suggestion that older XDs should be more deleterious to carriers, we assessed the effect of the XD on both male and female fertility. Unlike what is known from D. neotestacea, we found a strong fitness cost in females homozygous for the XD in D. testacea: a large proportion of homozygous females failed to produce offspring after being housed with males for several days. Our male fertility experiments show that while XD male fertility is lower under sperm depleting conditions, XD males have comparable fertility to males carrying a standard X chromosome under a free mating regime, which may better approximate conditions in wild populations of D. testacea. Lastly, we demonstrate the presence of autosomal suppression of X chromosome drive. Our results provide support for a model of XD evolution where the dynamics of young XDs are governed by fitness consequences in males, whereas in older XD systems, both suppression and fitness consequences in females likely supersede male fitness costs.