Evolution and dynamics of a natural gene drive sys-tem in house mice, the t haplotype
University of Zurich, Switzerland
Cooperation between genes is needed for organisms to function, and alleles that build better organisms will out-compete their rivals and spread. However, some genetic loci increase in frequency despite reducing organismal fitness, by manipulating upwards their transmission to offspring, called drive. The transmission benefits arising from drive come at the cost of alternative alleles, and often at the cost of the whole genome, potentially leading to intra-genomic conflict. Drive systems could be used to quickly spread loci that humans find valuable throughout wild populations, even if they reduce the fitness of their carriers, for example by biasing offspring sex ratios towards males in mosquitoes. Important to the debate on whether drive systems should be introduced into wild populations is a better understanding of how drive systems spread, and how genome-wide conflicts over transmission are resolved, so that we can better predict short and long-term outcomes. The study of natural drive systems is critical in this context. In this talk, I discuss recent behavioural, ecological and genomic findings on the t haplotype, a natural autosomal meiotic driver found in house mice Mus musculus. These results may have applied relevance, as the t haplotype has been proposed as the basis of a sex ratio distorter that could be used to humanely control pest house mouse populations.
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