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Extensive recombination suppression and chromosome-wide differentiation of a segregation distorter in Drosophila

By Zachary L Fuller, Spencer A. Koury, Christopher J Leonard, Randee E Young, Kobe Ikegami, Jonathan Westlake, Stephen Richards, Stephen W. Schaeffer, Nitin Phadnis

Posted 21 Dec 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/504126

Segregation distorters violate Mendelian Inheritance by over-representing themselves in the progeny of carrier individuals and are commonly associated with chromosomal inversions. When distorting alleles are found on sex chromosomes, the progeny of carrier individuals will exhibit skewed sex ratios, as exemplified by the array of Sex-Ratio (SR) distorting chromosomes found in Drosophila. Because of the strong selective pressures such chromosomes are thought to inflict on genomes, segregation distorters and their associated inversions are expected to experience rapid turn-over. However, the SR X-chromosome of Drosophila pseudoobscura is found at high frequencies in natural populations, forms stable latitudinal clines, appears to be unsuppressed, and shows evidence of being quite long-lived. Despite being a historically significant and well-studied segregation distortion system, the mechanisms allowing for the long-term persistence of the D. pseudoobscura SR chromosome remain unclear. Here, we perform a comparative genomic analysis between SR and uninverted standard X-chromosomes in D. pseudoobscura to study its evolutionary history and dynamics. We find a substantial level of differentiation between the SR and standard chromosome and estimate that the associated inversions have likely existed for the entire lifetime of the species (> 2 million generations). Through direct recombination experiments and population genetic analyses, we infer that this high level of differentiation is maintained by a combination of suppressed recombination and epistatic selection. Finally, our data reveal a massive mutational target size for protein and expression level changes specific to SR generated by its three non-overlapping inversions. Together our results imply that the entire SR chromosome in D. pseudoobscura behaves as a single co-adapted gene complex and has been maintained through a combination of suppressed recombination and epistatic selection. This finding highlights the dramatic consequences segregation distorters can have in shaping chromosome-wide patterns of recombination, nucleotide variation, and gene expression.

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