Evolution of recombination in eutherian mammals: insights into mechanisms that affect recombination rates and crossover interference

Proc Biol Sci. 2013 Sep 25;280(1771):20131945. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2013.1945. Print 2013 Nov 22.


Recombination allows faithful chromosomal segregation during meiosis and contributes to the production of new heritable allelic variants that are essential for the maintenance of genetic diversity. Therefore, an appreciation of how this variation is created and maintained is of critical importance to our understanding of biodiversity and evolutionary change. Here, we analysed the recombination features from species representing the major eutherian taxonomic groups Afrotheria, Rodentia, Primates and Carnivora to better understand the dynamics of mammalian recombination. Our results suggest a phylogenetic component in recombination rates (RRs), which appears to be directional, strongly punctuated and subject to selection. Species that diversified earlier in the evolutionary tree have lower RRs than those from more derived phylogenetic branches. Furthermore, chromosome-specific recombination maps in distantly related taxa show that crossover interference is especially weak in the species with highest RRs detected thus far, the tiger. This is the first example of a mammalian species exhibiting such low levels of crossover interference, highlighting the uniqueness of this species and its relevance for the study of the mechanisms controlling crossover formation, distribution and resolution.

Keywords: divergence time; elephant shrew; meiosis; phylogenetic analysis; selection; tiger.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Basal Metabolism
  • Bayes Theorem
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Body Size
  • Body Temperature
  • Crossing Over, Genetic / genetics*
  • Crossing Over, Genetic / physiology
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Humans
  • Likelihood Functions
  • Male
  • Mammals / genetics*
  • Models, Genetic
  • Phylogeny*
  • Recombination, Genetic / genetics*
  • Species Specificity
  • Testis / metabolism