Sex ratio meiotic drive as a plausible evolutionary mechanism for hybrid male sterility

Zhang, LBS, T. N.; Woldesellassie, F.; Xiao, H. L.; Tao, Y.,  PLOS Genetics,  11:e1005073. 2015.

Biological diversity on Earth depends on the multiplication of species or speciation, which is the evolution of reproductive isolation such as hybrid sterility between two new species. An unsolved puzzle is the exact mechanism(s) that causes two genomes to diverge from their common ancestor so that some divergent genes no longer function properly in the hybrids. Here we report genetic analyses of divergent genes controlling male fertility and sex ratio in two very young fruitfly species, Drosophila albomicans and D. nasuta. A majority of the genetic divergence for both traits is mapped to the same regions by quantitative trait loci mappings. With introgressions, six major loci are found to contribute to both traits. This genetic colocalization implicates that genes for hybrid male sterility have evolved primarily for controlling sex ratio. We propose that genetic conflicts over sex ratio may operate as a perpetual dynamo for genome divergence. This particular evolutionary mechanism may largely contribute to the rapid evolution of hybrid male sterility and the disproportionate enrichment of its underlying genes on the X chromosome – two patterns widely observed across animals.