Section: Evolutionary Biology
Topic: Evolution, Genetics/genomics

Can mechanistic constraints on recombination reestablishment explain the long-term maintenance of degenerate sex chromosomes?

10.24072/pcjournal.373 - Peer Community Journal, Volume 4 (2024), article no. e17.

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Y and W chromosomes often stop recombining and degenerate. Most work on recombination suppression has focused on the mechanisms favoring recombination arrest in the short term. Yet, the long-term maintenance of recombination suppression is critical to evolving degenerate sex chromosomes. This long-term maintenance has been little investigated. In the long term, recombination suppression may be maintained for selective reasons (e.g., involving the emergence of nascent dosage compensation), or due to mechanistic constraints preventing the reestablishment of recombination, for instance when complex chromosomal rearrangements evolve on the Y. In this paper, we investigate these ‘constraint’ theories. We show that they face a series of theoretical difficulties: they are not robust to extremely low rates of recombination restoration; they would rather cause population extinction than Y degeneration; they are less efficient at producing a non-recombining and degenerate Y than scenarios adding a selective pressure against recombination, whatever the rate of recombination restoration. Finally, whether such very high constraints exist is questionable. Very low rates of recombination reestablishment are sufficient to prevent Y degeneration, given the large fitness advantage to recover a non-degenerate Y or W for the heterogametic sex. The assumption of a lack of genetic variation to restore recombination seems also implausible given known mechanisms to restore a recombining pair of sex chromosomes.

Published online:
DOI: 10.24072/pcjournal.373
Type: Research article
Keywords: inversion, deleterious mutations, extinction, regulatory evolution, XY, ZW
Lenormand, Thomas 1; Roze, Denis 2, 3

1 CEFE, Univ Montpellier, CNRS, Univ Paul Valéry Montpellier 3, EPHE, IRD, Montpellier, France
2 CNRS, IRL 3614, Roscoff, France
3 Sorbonne Université, Station Biologique de Roscoff, Roscoff, France
License: CC-BY 4.0
Copyrights: The authors retain unrestricted copyrights and publishing rights
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Lenormand, Thomas; Roze, Denis. Can mechanistic constraints on recombination reestablishment explain the long-term maintenance of degenerate sex chromosomes?. Peer Community Journal, Volume 4 (2024), article  no. e17. doi : 10.24072/pcjournal.373.

Peer reviewed and recommended by PCI : 10.24072/pci.evolbiol.100714

Conflict of interest of the recommender and peer reviewers:
The recommender in charge of the evaluation of the article and the reviewers declared that they have no conflict of interest (as defined in the code of conduct of PCI) with the authors or with the content of the article.

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