Persistence of selfish genetic elements: population structure and conflict

Hatcher, MJ,  Trends in Ecology & Evolution,  15:271-277. 2000.

Selfish genetic elements are vertically transmitted factors that spread by obtaining a transmission advantage relative to the rest of the genome of their host organism, often with a cost to overall host fitness. In many cases, conventional population genetics theory predicts them spreading through populations, reaching fixation and becoming undetectable or sometimes driving the population extinct. However, in several well studied systems, these genetic elements are known to persist at relatively low, stable frequencies. Recent research suggests that several processes might explain these observations, including population structure, intragenomic conflict and coevolution.