Maternal-effect selfish genes in flour beetles

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  03 Apr 1992:
Vol. 256, Issue 5053, pp. 89-92
DOI: 10.1126/science.1566060


A previously unknown class of dominant, maternal-effect lethal M factors was found to be widespread in natural populations of the flour beetle, Tribolium castaneum, collected on several continents. Such factors are integrated into the host chromosomes at variable locations and show the remarkable property of self-selection by maternal-effect lethality to all hatchlings that do not inherit a copy of the factor itself. Offspring are rescued by either paternally or maternally inherited copies. The M-bearing chromosome is thereby perpetuated at the expense of its non-M homolog. M factors that map to different regions of the genome do not rescue one another's maternal-effect lethality. Factors expressing these properties are predicted to spread in a population, even in the absence of any additional selective advantage. Similar factors also occur in the related species T. confusum.

Stay Connected to Science