Fertility Costs of Meiotic Drivers

Curr Biol. 2019 Jun 3;29(11):R512-R520. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2019.03.046.


In sexual reproduction, opportunities are limited and the stakes are high. This inevitably leads to conflict. One pervasive conflict occurs within genomes between alternative alleles at heterozygous loci. Each gamete and thus each offspring will inherit only one of the two alleles from a heterozygous parent. Most alleles 'play fair' and have a 50% chance of being included in any given gamete. However, alleles can gain an enormous advantage if they act selfishly to force their own transmission into more than half, sometimes even all, of the functional gametes. These selfish alleles are known as 'meiotic drivers', and their cheating often incurs a high cost on the fertility of eukaryotes ranging from plants to mammals. Here, we review how several types of meiotic drivers directly and indirectly contribute to infertility, and argue that a complete picture of the genetics of infertility will require focusing on both the standard alleles - those that play fair - as well as selfish alleles involved in genetic conflict.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Eukaryota / genetics
  • Eukaryota / physiology*
  • Fertility / genetics*
  • Meiosis / physiology*