Detection of Rsp and modifier variation in the meiotic drive system Segregation Distorter (SD) of Drosophila melanogaster

Lyttle, TWB, J. G.; Ganetzky, B.,  Genetics,  114:183-202. 1986.

Identification of allelic variability at the two major loci (Sd and Rsp) that interact to cause sperm dysfunction in Segregation distorter (SD) males of D. melanogaster has been hampered by the difficulty in separating the elements recombinationally. In addition, small differences in the strength of Sd alleles or sensitivities of Rsp alleles to Sd are difficult to measure against background genetic or environmental variation. Viability effects of the markers used to score progeny classes may also introduce a bias. Removal of Sd and E(SD) from their second chromosome location to create a Dp(2;Y)Sd E(SD) chromosome eliminates these problems, since any combination of Rsp alleles can be easily tested without resorting to recombinational techniques. Further, since these pairs of Rsp alleles are compared in their response to Dp Sd E(SD) in the same individual males, background variation and viability effects can be easily removed to allow finescale resolution of Rsp differences. Tests of all possible pairwise combination of six laboratory chromosomes in this way revealed at least three and possibly four different Rsp allelic classes. In addition, the hierarchical nature of the tests further allowed for determination of the presence of linked suppressors or enhancers of Sd activity. A sample of 11 second chromosomes selected from a group recently isolated from a natural population was also unambiguously ordered as to Rsp allelic status using this approach. The resultant pattern was similar to that obtained for the laboratory chromosomes, except for the not unexpected observation that the natural population apparently harbored more drive suppressors. The pattern of results obtained from these pairwise combinations of Rsp alleles supports the notion that there are no dominance interactions within the group, but that each responds more or less independently to Sd in giving sperm dysfunction.