Experimental evidence supports a sex-specific selective sieve in mitochondrial genome evolution

Paolo Innocenti, Edward Morrow, Damian K Dowling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

183 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Mitochondria are maternally transmitted; hence, their genome can only make a direct and adaptive response to selection through females, whereas males represent an evolutionary dead end. In theory, this creates a sex-specific selective sieve, enabling deleterious mutations to accumulate in mitochondrial genomes if they exert male-specific effects. We tested this hypothesis, expressing five mitochondrial variants alongside a standard nuclear genome in Drosophila melanogaster, and found striking sexual asymmetry in patterns of nuclear gene expression. Mitochondrial polymorphism had few effects on nuclear gene expression in females but major effects in males, modifying nearly 10 of transcripts. These were mostly male-biased in expression, with enrichment hotspots in the testes and accessory glands. Our results suggest an evolutionary mechanism that results in mitochondrial genomes harboring male-specific mutation loads.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)845 - 848
Number of pages4
JournalScience
Volume332
Issue number6031
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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