The Y chromosome should degenerate because it cannot recombine. However, male-limited transmission increases selection efficiency for male-benefit alleles on the Y, and therefore, Y chromosomes should contribute significantly to variation in male fitness. This means that although the Drosophila Y chromosome is small and gene-poor, Y-linked genes are vital for male fertility in Drosophila melanogaster and the Y chromosome has large male fitness effects. It is unclear whether the same pattern is seen in the closely related Drosophila simulans. We backcrossed Y chromosomes from three geographic locations into five genetic backgrounds and found strong Y and genetic background effects on male fertility. There was a significant Y-background interaction, indicating substantial epistasis between the Y and autosomal genes affecting male fertility. This supports accumulating evidence that interactions between the Y chromosome and the autosomes are key determinants of male fitness.
Keywords: Drosophila simulans; ebony; coevolution; epistasis; fertility.
© 2017 European Society For Evolutionary Biology. Journal of Evolutionary Biology © 2017 European Society For Evolutionary Biology.