Ancient Male Recombination Shaped Genetic Diversity of Neo-Y Chromosome in Drosophila albomicans

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Researchers studying Y chromosome evolution have drawn attention to neo-Y chromosomes in Drosophila species due to their resembling the initial stage of Y chromosome evolution. In the studies of neo-Y chromosome of Drosophila miranda, the extremely low genetic diversity observed suggested various modes of natural selection acting on the nonrecombining genome. However, alternative possibility may come from its peculiar origin from a single chromosomal fusion event with male achiasmy, which potentially caused and maintained the low genetic diversity of the neo-Y chromosome. Here, we report a real case where a neo-Y chromosome is in transition from an autosome to a typical Y chromosome. The neo-Y chromosome of Drosophila albomicans harbored a rich genetic diversity comparable to its gametologous neo-X chromosome and an autosome in the same genome. Analyzing sequence variations in 53 genes and measuring recombination rates between pairs of loci by cross experiments, we elucidated the evolutionary scenario of the neo-Y chromosome of D. albomicans having high genetic diversity without assuming selective force, i.e., it originated from a single chromosomal fusion event, experienced meiotic recombination during the initial stage of evolution and diverged from neo-X chromosome by the suppression of recombination tens or a few hundreds of thousand years ago. Consequently, the observed high genetic diversity on the neo-Y chromosome suggested a strong effect of meiotic recombination to introduce genetic variations into the newly arisen sex chromosome.

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