Evidence for meiotic drive as an explanation for karyotype changes in fishes

Molina, WFM, P. A.; Bertollo, L. A. C.; Bidau, C. J.,  Marine Genomics,  15:29-34. 2014.

The process of preferential chromosome segregation during meiosis has been suggested to be responsible for the predominance of certain chromosome types in the karyotypes of mammals, birds and insects. We developed an extensive analysis of the fixation of mono- or bibrachial chromosomes in the karyotypes of the large Actinopterygii fish group, a key link in the evolution of terrestrial vertebrates, in order to investigate the generality of meiotic drive in determining karyotypic macrotrends. Unlike mammals, fishes have markedly undergone several types of preferential chromosomal rearrangements throughout evolution. Data from the analyzed orders indicate a prevalence of karyotypes with few (<33%) or many (>66%) acrocentric chromosomes and a low number of karyotypes with balanced numbers of mono- and bi-brachial elements. Parallel trends towards a higher number of karyotypes with prevalence of monobrachial chromosomes occurred in phylogenetically close orders (e.g. Perciformes and Tetraodontiformes, and in the order Mugiliformes) and in clades with prevalence of bibrachial elements (e.g. Characiformes, Gymnotiformes, Siluriformes, and Cypriniformes). Some orders where fewer species were available for study, such as Atheriniformes and Anguilliformes, showed karyotype assemblages where both trends were present. Our results strongly suggest a primary role of meiotic drive in karyotypic evolution as indicated by the accumulation of monobrachial chromosomes in Perciformes and Cypriniformes, or bibrachial chromosomes in Siluriformes and Characiformes. Further examinations of the interaction between life history traits, environmental characteristics, and the fixation of chromosomal rearrangements would be exceedingly valuable.