Sex-ratio meiotic drive in Drosophila simulans: cellular mechanism, candidate genes and evolution

Montchamp-Moreau, C,  Biochemical Society Transactions,  34:562-565. 2006.

The sex-ratio trait, reported in a dozen Drosophila species, is a type of naturally occurring meiotic drive in which the driving elements are located on the X chromosome. Typically, as the result of a shortage of Y bearing spermatozoa, males carrying a sex-ratio X chromosome produce a large excess of female offspring. The presence of sex-ratio chromosomes in a species can have considerable evolutionary consequences, because they can affect individual fitness and trigger extended intragenomic conflict. Here, I present the main results of the study performed in Drosophilosimulans. In this species, the loss of Y-bearing spermatozoa is related to the inability of the Y chromosome sister-chromatids to separate properly during meiosis II. Fine genetic mapping has shown that the primary sex-ratio locus on the X chromosome contains two distorter elements acting synergistically, both of which are required for drive expression. one element has been genetically mapped to a tandem duplication. To infer the natural history of the trait, the pattern of DNA sequence polymorphism in the surrounding chromosomal region is being analysed in natural populations of D. simulans harbouring sex-ratio X chromosomes. Initial results have revealed the recent spread of a distorter allele.