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Genetics. 1996 May; 143(1): 203–212.
PMCID: PMC1207254

Change of Genetic Architecture in Response to Sex


A traditional view is that sexual reproduction increases the potential for phenotypic evolution by expanding the range of genetic variation upon which natural selection can act. However, when nonadditive genetic effects and genetic disequilibria underlie a genetic system, genetic slippage (a change in the mean genotypic value contrary to that promoted by selection) in response to sex may occur. Additionally, depending on whether natural selection is predominantly stabilizing or disruptive, recombination may either enhance or reduce the level of expressed genetic variance. Thus, the role of sexual reproduction in the dynamics of phenotypic evolution depends heavily upon the nature of natural selection and the genetic system of the study population. In the present study, on a permanent lake Daphnia pulicaria population, sexual reproduction resulted in significant genetic slippage and a significant increase in expressed genetic variance for several traits. These observations provide evidence for substantial genetic disequilibria and nonadditive genetic effects underlying the genetic system of the study population. From these results, the fitness function of the previous clonal selection phase is inferred to be directional and/or stabilizing. The data are also used to infer the effects of natural selection on the mean and the genetic variance of the population.

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