Does grasshopper sperm evolve to make female meiosis fair?

Juan Pedro M. Camacho alerted Yaniv and myself towards Herrera et al. 1996 –a potential example of male control of female meiotic drive being exposed in crosses among grasshopper populations– as we predicted in our paper (Brandvain and Coop, “Sperm should evolve to make female meiosis fair” ). It’s a shame that we missed citing this in our paper, but it’s great to see an example of one of our predictions potentially being correct. We’ve posted the comment pasted below at pubmed commons.

After our paper appeared we were made aware of a great potential example of paternal control of female meiotic transmission (Herrera et al. 1996). In many species dispensable supernumerary B-chromosomes are preferentially transmitted to offspring, with this preferential segregation (drive) often occurring through female meiosis (Jones 1991, Burt and Trivers 2006). Herrera et al. studied a widespread B chromosome polymorphism in the grasshopper, Eyprepocnemis plorans. In crosses between 1B females and males from the same focal population in which B-chromosomes were present, B-chromosomes were transmitted following Mendelian ratios. However, when the same females were crossed to males from a population where the B chromosome was not present, they transmitted their B-chromosome to much more than half of their progeny. There was no obvious reduction in fertility, suggesting that this was not due to lethality and potentially due to meiotic drive. Herrera et al suggested that the male control of female meiosis is exerted during the first meiotic division, perhaps due to an effect of substances in the male ejaculate. These results are consistent with our hypothesis that sperm-based suppressors of drive may arise and spread in response to the spread of female meiotic drive elements (such as B-chromosomes), such that female meiotic drive can re-emerge when eggs are exposed to specific sperm from a population where drive suppression had not evolved. We thank Juan Pedro M. Camacho (Universidad de Granada) for kindly bringing this example to our attention and for feedback on this note.

Yaniv Brandvain and Graham Coop

Cited References:

Jones, R.N. 1991. B-Chromosome Drive. American Naturalist 137: 430-442.

Burt, A. and R. Trivers, 2006. Genes in conflict. Belknap Press, Cambridge.

Herrera, J. A., M. D. López-León, J. Cabrero, M. W. Shaw and J. P. M. Camacho. 1996. Evidence for B chromosome drive suppression in the grasshopper Eyprepocnemis plorans. Heredity 76: 633–639.

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