Because of their extensive functional interaction, mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and nuclear genes may evolve to form coadapted complexes within reproductively isolated populations. As a consequence of coadaptation, the fitness of particular nuclear alleles may depend on mtDNA genotype. Among populations of the copepod Tigriopus californicus, there are high levels of amino acid substitutions in both the mtDNA genes encoding subunits of cytochrome c oxidase (COX) and the nuclear gene encoding cytochrome c (CYC), the substrate for COX. Because of the functional interaction between enzyme and substrate proteins, we hypothesized that the fitness of CYC genotypes would depend on mtDNA genotype. To test this hypothesis, segregation ratios for CYC and a second nuclear marker (histone H1) unrelated to mitochondrial function were scored in F2 progeny of several reciprocal interpopulation crosses. Genotypic ratios at the CYC locus (but not the H1 locus) differed between reciprocal crosses and differed from expected Mendelian ratios, suggesting that CYC genotypic fitnesses were strongly influenced by cytoplasmic (including mtDNA) background. However, in most cases the nature of the deviations from Mendelian ratios and differences between reciprocal crosses are not consistent with simple coevolution between CYC and mtDNA background. In a cross in which both newly hatched larvae and adults were sampled, only the adult sample showed deviations from Mendelian ratios, indicating that genotypic viabilities differed. In two of six crosses, large genotypic ratio differences for CYC were observed between the sexes. These results suggest that significant variation in nuclear-mtDNA coadaptation may exist between T. californicus populations and that the relative viability of specific cytonuclear allelic combinations is somehow affected by sex.
Corresponding Editor: S. Edwards