Post-meiotic B chromosome expulsion, during spermiogenesis, in two grasshopper species.Chromosoma. 2017 Oct; 126(5):633-644.C
Most supernumerary (B) chromosomes are parasitic elements carrying out an evolutionary arms race with the standard (A) chromosomes. A variety of weapons for attack and defense have evolved in both contending elements, the most conspicuous being B chromosome drive and A chromosome drive suppression. Here, we show for the first time that most microspermatids formed during spermiogenesis in two grasshopper species contain expulsed B chromosomes. By using DNA probes for B-specific satellite DNAs in Eumigus monticola and Eyprepocnemis plorans, and also 18S rDNA in the latter species, we were able to count the number of B chromosomes in standard spermatids submitted to fluorescence in situ hybridization, as well as visualizing B chromosomes inside most microspermatids. In E. plorans, the presence of B-carrying microspermatids in 1B males was associated with a significant decrease in the proportion of B-carrying standard spermatids. The fact that this decrease was apparent in elongating spermatids but not in round ones demonstrates that meiosis yields 1:1 proportions of 0B and 1B spermatids and hence that B elimination takes place post-meiotically, i.e., during spermiogenesis, implying a 5-25% decrease in B transmission rate. In E. monticola, the B chromosome is mitotically unstable and B number varies between cells within a same individual. A comparison of B frequency between round and elongating spermatids of a same individual revealed a significant 12.3% decrease. We conclude that B chromosome elimination during spermiogenesis is a defense weapon of the host genome to get rid of parasitic chromosomes.