Temperature-Sensitive Reproduction and the Physiological and Evolutionary Potential for Mother's Curse

Kristi L. Montooth, Abhilesh S. Dhawanjewar, Colin D. Meiklejohn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Strict maternal transmission of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is hypothesized to permit the accumulation of mitochondrial variants that are deleterious to males but not females, a phenomenon called mother's curse. However, direct evidence that mtDNA mutations exhibit such sexually antagonistic fitness effects is sparse. Male-specific mutational effects can occur when the physiological requirements of the mitochondria differ between the sexes. Such male-specific effects could potentially occur if sex-specific cell types or tissues have energy requirements that are differentially impacted by mutations affecting energy metabolism. Here we summarize findings from a model mitochondrial-nuclear incompatibility in the fruit fly Drosophila that demonstrates sex-biased effects, but with deleterious effects that are generally larger in females. We present new results showing that the mitochondrial-nuclear incompatibility does negatively affect male fertility, but only when males are developed at high temperatures. The temperature-dependent male sterility can be partially rescued by diet, suggesting an energetic basis. Finally, we discuss fruitful paths forward in understanding the physiological scope for sex-specific effects of mitochondrial mutations in the context of the recent discovery that many aspects of metabolism are sexually dimorphic and downstream of sex-determination pathways in Drosophila. A key parameter of these models that remains to be quantified is the fraction of mitochondrial mutations with truly male-limited fitness effects across extrinsic and intrinsic environments. Given the energy demands of reproduction in females, only a small fraction of the mitochondrial mutational spectrum may have the potential to contribute to mother's curse in natural populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)890-899
Number of pages10
JournalIntegrative and Comparative Biology
Volume59
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Plant Science

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