Mating ecology explains patterns of genome elimination

Ecol Lett. 2014 Dec;17(12):1602-12. doi: 10.1111/ele.12383. Epub 2014 Oct 17.


Genome elimination - whereby an individual discards chromosomes inherited from one parent, and transmits only those inherited from the other parent - is found across thousands of animal species. It is more common in association with inbreeding, under male heterogamety, in males, and in the form of paternal genome elimination. However, the reasons for this broad pattern remain unclear. We develop a mathematical model to determine how degree of inbreeding, sex determination, genomic location, pattern of gene expression and parental origin of the eliminated genome interact to determine the fate of genome-elimination alleles. We find that: inbreeding promotes paternal genome elimination in the heterogametic sex; this may incur population extinction under female heterogamety, owing to eradication of males; and extinction is averted under male heterogamety, owing to countervailing sex-ratio selection. Thus, we explain the observed pattern of genome elimination. Our results highlight the interaction between mating system, sex-ratio selection and intragenomic conflict.

Keywords: Extinction; genomic imprinting; haplodiploidy; inbreeding; meiotic drive; paternal genome elimination; paternal genome loss; sex determination; sex ratio; sib-mating.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Gene Expression
  • Genome*
  • Inbreeding*
  • Inheritance Patterns*
  • Male
  • Models, Genetic*
  • Selection, Genetic*
  • Sex Determination Processes
  • Sex Ratio
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal