Non-Mendelian segregation and transmission drive of B chromosomes

J. P. M. Camacho,  Chromosome Research,  2022.

Selfish genetic elements (SGE) get a transmission advantage (drive) thanks to their non-Mendelian inheritance. Here I identify eight steps during the reproductive cycle that can be subverted by SGEs to thrive in natural populations. Even though only three steps occur during meiosis, most cases of segregation distortion are considered “meiotic drive sensu lato.” As this is a source of unnecessary contradictions, I suggest always using the term “transmission ratio distortion” (TRD). Chromosomal SGEs (e.g., B chromosomes) exhibit almost all types of TRD. In plants, the best-studied type of TRD for B chromosomes occurs post-meiotically during male gametophyte maturation. However, in animals, the two main types are pre-meiotic and meiotic TRDs, in all cases associated with gonotaxis (i.e., a preference of B chromosomes for germ cells). Frequently, TRD drivers in genic SGEs (e.g., t-alleles and segregation distorters in Drosophila) are paralogous copies of genes from the standard genome, whereas their targets can be other genes or satellite DNA (satDNA). As B chromosomes are often rich in satDNA and contain paralogous copies of A chromosome genes, perhaps their drive mechanisms are similar to those of genic SGEs. So far, the only association between a B chromosome gene and TRD is the gene haplodizer in Nasonia vitripennis. The discovery of B-genes controlling B-drive in other species does not appear to be far off, but experimental crosses will be needed to simultaneously test the TRD of a given B chromosome and the expression of its genes.

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