Selfing is the safest sex for caenorhabditis tropicalis

Luke M. Noble*, John Yuen, Lewis Stevens, Nicolas Moya, Riaad Persaud, Marc Moscatelli, Jacqueline Jackson, Christian Braendle, Erik C. Andersen, Hannah S. Seidel, Matthew V. Rockman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mating systems have profound effects on genetic diversity and compatibility. The convergent evolution of self-fertilization in three Caenorhabditis species provides a powerful lens to examine causes and consequences of mating system transitions. Among the selfers, C. tropicalis is the least genetically diverse and most afflicted by outbreeding depression. We generated a chromosomal-scale genome for C. tropicalis and surveyed global diversity. Population structure is very strong, and islands of extreme divergence punctuate a genomic background that is highly homogeneous around the globe. Outbreeding depression in the laboratory is caused largely by multiple gene drive elements, genetically consistent with maternal toxin/zygotic antidote systems. Driver loci harbor novel and duplicated genes, and their activity is modified by mito-nuclear background. Segregating drivers dramatically reduce fitness, and simulations show that selfing limits their spread. Frequent selfing in C. tropicalis may therefore be a strategy to avoid drive-mediated outbreeding depression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalUnknown Journal
StatePublished - Aug 7 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)

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