Meiotic drive shapes rates of karyotype evolution in mammals. Academic Article uri icon


  • Chromosome number is perhaps the most basic characteristic of a genome, yet generalizations that can explain the evolution of this trait across large clades have remained elusive. Using karyotype data from over 1000 mammals, we developed and applied a phylogenetic model of chromosome evolution that links chromosome number changes with karyotypemorphology. Using our model, we infer that rates of chromosome number evolution are significantly lower in species with karyotypes that consist of either all bibrachial or all monobrachial chromosomes than in species with a mix of both types ofmorphologies. We suggest that species with homogeneous karyotypes may represent cases where meiotic drive acts to stabilize the karyotype, favoring the chromosome morphologies already present in the genome. In contrast, rapid bouts of chromosome number evolution in taxa with mixed karyotypes may indicate that a switch in the polarity of female meiotic drive favors changes in chromosomenumber. We do not find any evidence that karyotype morphology affects rates of speciation orextinction. Furthermore, we document that switches in meiotic drive polarity are likely common and have occurred in most major clades of mammals, and that rapid remodeling of karyotypes may be more common than oncethought.

published proceedings

  • Evolution

altmetric score

  • 11.6

author list (cited authors)

  • Blackmon, H., Justison, J., Mayrose, I., & Goldberg, E. E.

citation count

  • 20

complete list of authors

  • Blackmon, Heath||Justison, Joshua||Mayrose, Itay||Goldberg, Emma E

publication date

  • March 2019