Evolution of asymmetric gamete signaling and suppressed recombination at the mating type locus


The two partners required for sexual reproduction are rarely the same. This pattern extends to species which lack sexual dimorphism yet possess self-incompatible gametes determined at mating-type regions of suppressed recombination, likely precursors of sex chromosomes. Here we investigate the role of cellular signaling in the evolution of mating-types. We develop a model of ligand-receptor dynamics, and identify factors that determine the capacity of cells to send and receive signals. The model specifies conditions favoring the evolution of gametes producing ligand and receptor asymmetrically and shows how these are affected by recombination. When the recombination rate evolves, the conditions favoring asymmetric signaling also favor tight linkage of ligand and receptor loci in distinct linkage groups. These results suggest that selection for asymmetric gamete signaling could be the first step in the evolution of non-recombinant mating-type loci, paving the road for the evolution of anisogamy and sexes.

Journal details

Journal eLife
Volume 8
Pages e48239
Available online
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