Mutations, sterility and sometimes even extinction of an entire species: living organisms contain many selfish genes that do not have the best intentions for their host.
Researchers at the University of Rochester have now looked at one of these disruptive genetic elements called SD in a population of fruit flies. They saw that DS disrupts the equitable transmission of genes to the next generation.
Females pass on SD chromosomes to 50% of their offspring, following the rules of biology, but males pass on ALL their offspring. This is because SD kills all sperm that do not contain this component. It works because SD has become a supergene: a group of genes on the same chromosome that are passed on as a whole.
In the formative offspring, SD alone cannot be properly combined, which happens with other chromosomes. This causes nasty mutations and problems in the host, but it can also eventually lead to the eradication of DS. Until then, it’s a good thing that we know better how this selfish one operates, if we ever want to intervene.
Learn more here: ‘Supergene’ wreaks havoc on a genome.
“Food expert. Unapologetic bacon maven. Beer enthusiast. Pop cultureaholic. General travel scholar. Total internet buff.”