wtf: a meiotic drive tragedy in 3 acts

Meiotic drive is something thing that happens in the gametes of all walks of life, from itty bitty fungi to plants and animals. Defying Mendel’s laws, meiotic drive biases the process of meiosis (the creation of gametes like eggs and sperm) in favor of certain genes. There’s no blood and gore, but there’s poison, death, and plenty of drama surrounding these ruthless, selfish genes. Meiotic drive kills gametes, so it’s an important concept in evolutionary biology because it can make successful reproduction impossible between organisms carrying certain genes. In the long run, this can lead to things like speciation (when a population splits into different species); in the short run, it might be a cause of infertility. We don’t want to spoil it further, so go on, read the graphic!

The original research paper on the “cheekily” named wtf system in yeast is published in eLife if you’re hungry for more details (OA): wtf genes are prolific dual poison-antidote meiotic drivers

(quick quote from the paper for those of you who are curious: “This family contains 25 members in Sp, and its (cheeky) name is derived from the genes’ genomic association with Tf transposons“).

Infographic available as a PDF




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