Recombination difference between sexes: a role for haploid selection

PLoS Biol. 2005 Mar;3(3):e63. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.0030063. Epub 2005 Feb 22.


Why the autosomal recombination rate differs between female and male meiosis in most species has been a genetic enigma since the early study of meiosis. Some hypotheses have been put forward to explain this widespread phenomenon and, up to now, only one fact has emerged clearly: In species in which meiosis is achiasmate in one sex, it is the heterogametic one. This pattern, known as the Haldane-Huxley rule, is thought to be a side effect, on autosomes, of the suppression of recombination between the sex chromosomes. However, this rule does not hold for heterochiasmate species (i.e., species in which recombination is present in both sexes but varies quantitatively between sexes) and does not apply to species lacking sex chromosomes, such as hermaphroditic plants. In this paper, we show that in plants, heterochiasmy is due to a male-female difference in gametic selection and is not influenced by the presence of heteromorphic sex chromosomes. This finding provides strong empirical support in favour of a population genetic explanation for the evolution of heterochiasmy and, more broadly, for the evolution of sex and recombination.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Crosses, Genetic*
  • Female
  • Haploidy
  • Male
  • Models, Genetic
  • Plants / genetics
  • Recombination, Genetic*
  • Sex Chromosomes*