Sex-ratio meiotic drive and Y-linked resistance in Drosophila affinis

Unckless, RLL, A. M.; Clark, A. G.,  Genetics,  199:831-840. 2015.

Genetic elements that cheat Mendelian segregation by biasing transmission in their favor gain a significant fitness benefit. Several examples of sex-ratio meiotic drive, where one sex chromosome biases its own transmission at the cost of the opposite sex chromosome, exist in animals and plants. While the distorting sex chromosome gains a significant advantage by biasing sex ratio, the autosomes, and especially the opposite sex chromosome, experience strong selection to resist this transmission bias. In most wellstudied sex-ratio meiotic drive systems, autosomal and/or Y-linked resistance has been identified. We specifically surveyed for Y-linked resistance to sex-ratio meiotic drive in Drosophila affinis by scoring the sex ratio of offspring sired by males with a driving X and one of several Y chromosomes. Two distinct types of resistance were identified: a restoration to 50/50 sex ratios and a complete reversal of sex ratio to all sons. We confirmed that fathers siring all sons lacked a Y chromosome, consistent with previously published work. Considerable variation in Y-chromosome morphology exists in D. affinis, but we showed that morphology does not appear to be associated with resistance to sex-ratio meiotic drive. We then used two X chromosomes (driving and standard) and three Y chromosomes (susceptible, resistant, and lacking) to examine fertility effects of all possible combinations. We find that both the driving X and resistant and lacking Y have significant fertility defects manifested in microscopic examination of testes and a 48-hr sperm depletion assay. Maintenance of variation in this sex-ratio meiotic drive system, including both the X-linked distorter and the Y-resistant effects, appear to be mediated by a complex interaction between fertility fitness and transmission dynamics.