In many species, spermatogenesis involves more cell divisions than oogenesis, and the male germline, therefore, accumulates more DNA replication errors, a phenomenon known as male mutation bias. The extent of male mutation bias (α) is estimated by comparing substitution rates of the X, Y, and autosomal chromosomes, as these chromosomes spend different proportions of their time in the germlines of the two sexes. Male mutation bias has been characterized in placental and marsupial mammals as well as birds, but analyses in monotremes failed to detect any such bias. Monotremes are an ancient lineage of egg-laying mammals with distinct biological properties, which include unique germline features. Here, we sought to assess the presence and potential characteristics of male mutation bias in platypus and the short-beaked echidna based on substitution rate analyses of X, Y, and autosomes. We established the presence of moderate male mutation bias in monotremes, corresponding to an α value of 2.12-3.69. Given that it has been unclear what proportion of the variation in substitution rates on the different chromosomal classes is really due to differential number of replications, we analyzed the influence of other confounding forces (selection, replication-timing, etc.) and found that male mutation bias is the main force explaining the between-chromosome classes differences in substitution rates. Finally, we estimated the proportion of variation at the gene level in substitution rates that is owing to replication effects and found that this phenomenon can explain >68% of these variations in monotremes, and in control species, rodents, and primates.
- heterogametic sex chromosomes
- male mutation bias
- substitution rates
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics