Songbird germline-restricted chromosome as a potential arena of genetic conflicts
Genetic conflicts can arise between components of the genome with different inheritance strategies. The germline-restricted chromosome (GRC) of songbirds shows unusual mitotic and meiotic transmission compared with the rest of the genome. It is excluded from somatic cells and maintained only in the germline. It is usually present in one copy in the male germline and eliminated during spermatogenesis, while in the female germline, it usually occurs in two copies and behaves as a regular chromosome. Here, we review what is known about the GRC’s evolutionary history, genetic content, and expression and discuss how it may be involved in different types of genetic conflicts. Finally, we interrogate the potential role of the GRC in songbird germline development, highlighting several unsolved mysteries.