New paper out in Evolution! … and a look back and the forked and winding paths of research ideas

I am very pleased to announce the recent acceptance of:

Olito, C. & Abbott, J.K. (2023). The evolution of suppressed recombination between sex chromosomes and the lengths of evolutionary strata. Evolution X: XX–XX. doi: 10.1093/evolut/qpad023

Believe it or not, all of the inversion work over the past few years started for me with the ideas we develop in this paper. Sometimes it’s fun to look back and see how those ideas have unfolded, eventually maturing into published papers. It seems like forever ago now, but Tim and I were chatting over Skype about a different project (which became Connallon et al. 2018), and the subject of how different selection scenarios might influence fixed inversion lengths came up. Almost instantly, we took the idea in different directions.

Tim turned right and immediately started dreaming up different scenarios for autosomal inversions; I turned left and started thinking about recombination suppression between sex chromosomes and the lengths of evolutionary strata. Since then, we’ve slowly bushwhacked our way down that forked trail, working together, independently, and with other collaborators. Most of the foundations needed to be laid for the autosomal cases, and that project rightfully came first. But it was a slow process, and in the meantime, I developed a rough version of the ideas for sex chromosomes which was originally posted on bioRxiv in 2020 (!). Eventually, the autosomal paper came out in Mol. Ecology (Connallon & Olito 2021), and seems to have been pretty well received.

It seemed like the time was right to push on with the sex-chromosomes work, but after a really good (though ultimately unsuccessful) peer review, and some great advice from Tim, it became clear that I was trying to pack too much into the paper. In the end, I took a deceptively short subsection on neutral inversions in the original bioRxiv post and workshopped it with my colleagues in the Genetics of Sex Differences Research Group here at Lund University. After taking a much more careful look at the idea of “sheltering of deleterious mutations” on Y chromosomes, we developed the idea to examine the effects of partially recessive deleterious variation on the fixation of inversions expanding sex-linked regions, which was eventually accepted last year (Olito et al. 2022). … BUT… as so often happens, while writing that “sheltering” paper, it became clear to Jessica and I that we needed to completely overhaul the models in our larger manuscript on sex chromosomes to incorporate the effects of partially recessive deleterious mutations.

And that is where the forked and winding trail has finally led us… to this recently accepted paper, where we are finally able to share our findings about how different selection scenarios can impact the length of chromosomal inversions (or other large-effect recombination modifiers) suppressing recombination between proto sex chromosomes. It’s been fun a fun ride, and I hope the ideas we discuss in the paper are as interesting and stimulating for others as they have been for us to develop.

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