, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp 235-248

Evolutionary consequences of cytoplasmic sex ratio distorters

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Summary

Computer simulations of diploid genetic models were used to examine the consequences of the spread of a cytoplasmic sex ratio distorter on the frequencies of nuclear sex-determination alleles and the spread of nuclear resistance alleles in female biased populations. The cytoplsmic elements considered here override the expression of the nuclear sex-determination genes, turning genetic males into females. When homozygous male genotypes are viable, a cytoplasmic sex ratio historter spreads in a population if the proportion of daughters produced by infected females exceeds the proportion of daughters produced by uninfected females. The equilibrium frequency of male phenotypes is the proportion of uninfected progeny produced by infected females. When homozygous male genotypes are lethal, the conditions for the spread of the cytoplasmic element are more stringent. The spread of a cytoplasmic sex ratio distorter causes an increase in the frequency of nuclear male sex-determination alleles as a result of the unusual combinations of genotypes which mate in infected populations. Eventually, a cytoplasmic element may replace the nuclear gene as the sex-determination mechanism. This occurs without selection. Nuclear genes conferring resistance to cytoplasmic sex ratio distorters generally increase in female biased populations and often restore a 1∶1 sex ratio despite continual selection on the cytoplasmic element to increase its transmission efficiency.