Are Drosophila SR drive chromosomes always balanced?

Heredity (Edinb). 1999 Sep;83 ( Pt 3):221-8. doi: 10.1038/sj.hdy.6886100.

Abstract

SR chromosomes are the best-known case of sex chromosome meiotic drive. These X chromosomes cause the production of female-biased progenies in several Drosophila species. Due to their meiotic drive advantage, they are expected to spread and become fixed, resulting in population extinction due to the lack of males. However, this apparently does not occur: SR chromosomes are maintained in balanced polymorphisms, resulting from the equilibrium between their meiotic drive advantage and deleterious fitness effects. In this paper we review the current explanations for their deleterious effects and we argue that it is highly improbable that all newly emerged SR are sufficiently deleterious to avoid fixation. Unbalanced SR almost certainly arise and go unnoticed because of three possible outcomes: (i) fixation followed by extinction of the population or species; (ii) fixation followed by the emergence and fixation of drive suppressors, restoring the normal 1:1 sexual proportion; or (iii) transformation into balanced SR due to partial suppression. If these outcomes really occur, then extant cases of sex-chromosome meiotic drive such as SR, causing small deviations on the population sexual proportion, are only the tip of the iceberg and strong sexual proportion shifts (possibly followed by extinction) are a more common feature of species evolution than is usually assumed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drosophila / genetics*
  • Female
  • Male
  • Sex Chromosomes*
  • Sex Ratio*