Meiotic drive alters sperm competitive ability in stalk-eyed flies

Wilkinson, GSF, C. L.,  Proceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences,  268:2559-2564. 2001.

Meiotic drive results when sperm carrying a driving chromosome preferentially survive development. Meiotic drive should therefore influence sperm competition because drive males produce fewer sperm than non-drive males. Whether meiotic drive also influences the competitive ability of sperm after ejaculation is unknown. Here we report the results from reciprocal crosses that are designed for estimating the sperm precedence of male stalk-eyed flies (Cyrtodiopsis whitei) with or without X-linked meiotic drive. We find that nearly half of all sex-ratio males, as compared with 14 % of non-sex-ratio males, fail to produce young in a reciprocal cross. Furthermore, the proportion of progeny sired by a sex-ratio male in a female jointly inseminated by a non-sex-ratio male was less than expected from the number of sperm transferred. These effects are not due to differential sperm storage by females because, after a single mating with a sex-ratio male, all females stored sperm and because two sex-ratio males share paternity after jointly mating with a female. In addition to demonstrating a new mechanism of sperm competition, these results provide insight into the maintenance of sex-ratio polymorphisms. Sex-ratio males have less than one-half the fertility of non-sex-ratio males, as is required in order for frequency-dependent selection on males to produce a stable sex-ratio polymorphism.