Sex-ratio meiotic drive and interspecific competition

Unckless, RLC, A. G.,  Journal of Evolutionary Biology,  27:1513-1521. 2014.

It has long been known that processes occurring within a species may impact the interactions between species. For example, as competitive ability is sensitive to parameters including reproductive rate, carrying capacity and competition efficiency, the outcome of interspecific competition may be influenced by any process that alters these attributes. Although several such scenarios have been discussed, the influence of selfish genetic elements within one species on competition between species has not received theoretical treatment. We show that, with strong competition, sex-ratio meiotic drive systems can result in a significant shift in community composition because the effective birth rate in the population may be increased by a female-biased sex ratio. Using empirical data, we attempt to estimate the magnitude of this effect in several Drosophila species. We infer that meiotic drive elements, selfish genetic elements within species, can provide a substantial competitive advantage to that species within a community.