Cyto-nuclear interactions can favor the evolution of genomic imprinting

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Interactions between cytoplasmic (generally organelle) and nuclear genomes may be relatively common and could potentially have major fitness consequences. As in the case of within-genome epistasis, this cytonuclear epistasis can favor the evolutionary coadaptation of high-fitness combinations of nuclear and cytoplasmic alleles. Because cytoplasmic factors are generally uniparentally inherited, the cytoplasmic genome is inherited along with only one of the nuclear haplotypes, and therefore, coadaptation is expected to evolve through the interaction of these coinherited (usually maternally inherited) genomes. Here I show that, as a result of this coinheritance of the two genomes, cytonuclear epistasis can favor the evolution of genomic imprinting such that, when the cytoplasmic factor is maternally inherited, selection favors maternal expression of the nuclear locus and when the factor is paternally inherited selection favors paternal expression. Genomic imprinting evolves in this model because it leads to a pattern of gene expression in the nuclear haplotype that is coadapted with (i.e., adaptively coordinated with) gene expression in the coinherited cytoplasmic genome.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1364-1371
Number of pages8
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2009


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