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Genetics. Nov 1997; 147(3): 1169–1180.
PMCID: PMC1208241

Sex Chromosome Meiotic Drive in Stalk-Eyed Flies

Abstract

Meiotically driven sex chromosomes can quickly spread to fixation and cause population extinction unless balanced by selection or suppressed by genetic modifiers. We report results of genetic analyses that demonstrate that extreme female-biased sex ratios in two sister species of stalk-eyed flies, Cyrtodiopsis dalmanni and C. whitei, are due to a meiotic drive element on the X chromosome (X(d)). Relatively high frequencies of X(d) in C. dalmanni and C. whitei (13-17% and 29%, respectively) cause female-biased sex ratios in natural populations of both species. Sex ratio distortion is associated with spermatid degeneration in male carriers of X(d). Variation in sex ratios is caused by Y-linked and autosomal factors that decrease the intensity of meiotic drive. Y-linked polymorphism for resistance to drive exists in C. dalmanni in which a resistant Y chromosome reduces the intensity and reverses the direction of meiotic drive. When paired with X(d), modifying Y chromosomes (Y(m)) cause the transmission of predominantly Y-bearing sperm, and on average, production of 63% male progeny. The absence of sex ratio distortion in closely related monomorphic outgroup species suggests that this meiotic drive system may predate the origin of C. whitei and C. dalmanni. We discuss factors likely to be involved in the persistence of these sex-linked polymorphisms and consider the impact of X(d) on the operational sex ratio and the intensity of sexual selection in these extremely sexually dimorphic flies.

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Selected References

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