wtf genes are ancient meiotic drivers

De Carvalho, Mickael (2021). wtf genes are ancient meiotic drivers. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.000135ac

Abstract

Meiotic drivers are selfish elements that bias their own transmission into more than half the progeny produced by a driver+/driver- heterozygote. Meiotic drivers are thought to exist for relatively short evolutionary timespans because drivers are generally found in single species, rather than being shared within a clade of close-related organisms. Additionally, drivers are predicted to decay both if they are suppressed and if they spread to fixation. In this study, we examine the evolutionary history of wtf meiotic drivers first discovered in the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe. We identify homologous genes in three other fission yeast species S. octosporus, S. osmophilus, and S. cryophilus, which are estimated to have diverged over 100 million years ago from S. pombe. Synteny evidence supports that wtf genes were present in the common ancestor of these four species. Moreover, the ancestral genes were likely drivers as wtf genes in S. octosporus cause meiotic drive. Our findings indicate that active meiotic drive systems can be maintained for long evolutionary timespans.

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