Hoisted with his own petard: how sex-ratio meiotic drive in Drosophila affnis creates resistance alleles that limit its spread

W.-J. Ma, K. B. Patch, E. M. Knoles, M. M. Shoaib and R. L. Unckless,  bioRxiv,  2022.02.14.480432. 2022.

Meiotic drivers are selfish genetic elements that tinker with gameto-genesis to bias their own transmission into the next generation of off-spring. Such tinkering can have significant consequences on gameto-genesis and end up hampering the spread of the driver. In Drosophila affrnis, sex-ratio meiotic drive is caused by an X-linked complex that, when in males with a susceptible Y chromosome, results in broods that are more than 95% female. Interestingly, D. affrnis males lacking a Y chromosome (XO) are fertile and males with the meiotic drive X and no Y produce only sons – effectively reversing the sex-ratio effect. Here, we show that meiotic drive dramatically increases the rate of nondisjunction of the Y chromosome (at least 50X), meaning that the driver is creating resistant alleles through the process of driving. We then model how the O might influence the spread, dynamics and equilibrium of the sex-ratio X chromosome. We find that the O can prevent the spread or reduce the equilibrium frequency of the sex-ratio X chromosome and it can even lead to oscillations in frequency. Finally, with reasonable parameters, the O is unlikely to lead to the loss of the Y chromosome, but we discuss how it might lead to sex-chromosome turnover indirectly.Competing Interest StatementThe authors have declared no competing interest.

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