Female meiotic drive in plants: mechanisms and dynamics

F. Finseth,  Current Opinion in Genetics and Development,  82:102101. 2023.

Female meiosis is fundamentally asymmetric, creating an arena for genetic elements to compete for inclusion in the egg to maximize their transmission. Centromeres, as mediators of chromosomal segregation, are prime candidates to evolve via ‘female meiotic drive’. According to the centromere-drive model, the asymmetry of female meiosis ignites a coevolutionary arms race between selfish centromeres and kinetochore proteins, the by-product of which is accelerated sequence divergence. Here, I describe and compare plant models that have been instrumental in uncovering the mechanistic basis of female meiotic drive (maize) and the dynamics of active selfish centromeres in nature (monkeyflowers). Then, I speculate on the mechanistic basis of drive in monkeyflowers, discuss how centromere strength influences chromosomal segregation in plants, and describe new insights into the evolution of plant centromeres.

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