Coevolutionary dynamics of polyandry and sex-linked meiotic drive

Holman, LP, T. A. R.; Wedell, N.; Kokko, H.,  Evolution,  69:709-720. 2015.

Segregation distorters located on sex chromosomes are predicted to sweep to fixation and cause extinction via a shortage of one sex, but in nature they are often found at low, stable frequencies. One potential resolution to this longstanding puzzle involves female multiple mating (polyandry). Because many meiotic drivers severely reduce the sperm competitive ability of their male carriers, females are predicted to evolve more frequent polyandry and thereby promote sperm competition when a meiotic driver invades. Consequently, the driving chromosome’s relative fitness should decline, halting or reversing its spread. We used formal modeling to show that this initially appealing hypothesis cannot resolve the puzzle alone: other selective pressures (e.g., low fitness of drive homozygotes) are required to establish a stable meiotic drive polymorphism. However, polyandry and meiotic drive can strongly affect one another’s frequency, and polyandrous populations may be resistant to the invasion of rare drive mutants.