Evolution - (-) - [2022-09-23; online 2022-09-23]
Evolution of Bateson-Dobzhansky-Muller (BDM) incompatibilities is thought to represent a key step in the formation of separate species. They are incompatible alleles that have evolved in separate populations and are exposed in hybrid offspring as hybrid sterility or lethality. In this study, we reveal a previously unconsidered mechanism promoting the formation of BDM incompatibilities, meiotic drive. Theoretical studies have evaluated the role that meiotic drive, the phenomenon whereby selfish elements bias their transmission to progeny at ratios above 50:50, plays in speciation, and have mostly concluded that drive could not result in speciation on its own. Using the model fungus Neurospora, we demonstrate that the large meiotic drive haplotypes, Sk-2 and Sk-3, contain putative sexual incompatibilities. Our experiments revealed that although crosses between Neurospora intermedia and Neurospora metzenbergii produce viable progeny at appreciable rates, when strains of N. intermedia carry Sk-2 or Sk-3 the proportion of viable progeny drops substantially. Additionally, it appears that Sk-2 and Sk-3 have accumulated different incompatibility phenotypes, consistent with their independent evolutionary history. This research illustrates how meiotic drive can contribute to reproductive isolation between populations, and thereby speciation.