Local selection underlies the geographic distribution of sex-ratio drive in Drosophila neotestacea

Dyer, KA,  Evolution,  66:973-984. 2012.

Selfish genetic elements promote their own transmission to the next generation, often at a cost to the host individual. A sex-ratio (SR) driving X chromosome prevents the maturation of Y-bearing sperm, and as a result is transmitted to 100% of the offspring, all of which are female. Because the spread of a SR chromosome can result in a female-biased population sex ratio, the ecological and evolutionary consequences of harboring this selfish element can be severe. In this study, we show that the prevalence of SR drive in Drosophila neotestacea varies between 0% and 30% among populations, and is common in the south whereas rare in the north. The prevalence of SR is not associated with the presence of suppressors of drive, geographic distance, or genetic distance based on autosomal microsatellite loci. Instead, our results indicate that ecological selection on SR drive varies among populations, as the prevalence of SR is highly correlated with climatic factors, with the severity of winter the best determinant of SR frequency. Thus, ecological and demographic factors may have significant consequences for the short and long term evolutionary dynamics of selfish elements and the manner with which they coevolve with the rest of the genome.