Competition at the Mouse t Complex: Rare Alleles Are Inherently Favored

van Boven, MW, Franz J.,  Theoretical Population Biology,  60:343-358. 2001.

We investigate the competition between alleles at a segregation distorter locus. The focus is on the invasion prospects of rare mutant distorter alleles in a population in which a wildtype and a resident distorter allele are present. The parameters are chosen to reflect the situation at the t complex of the house mouse, one of the best-studied examples of segregation distortion. By analyzing the invasion chances of rare alleles, we provide an analytical justification of earlier simulation results. We show that a new distorter allele can successfully invade even if it is inferior both at the gamete and at the individual level. In fact, newly arising distorter alleles have an inherent rareness advantage if their negative fitness consequences are restricted to homozygous condition. Likewise, rare mutant wildtype alleles may often invade even if their viability or fertility is reduced. As a consequence, the competition between alleles at a segregation distorter locus should lead to a high degree of polymorphism. We discuss the implications of this conclusion for the t complex of the house mouse and for the evolutionary stability of “honest” Mendelian segregation.