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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Dec 5;103(49):18638-43. Epub 2006 Nov 22.

Ameiotic recombination in asexual lineages of Daphnia.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Indiana University, 1001 East Third Street, Bloomington, IN 47405, USA.

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  • Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Feb 13;104(7):2554.


Despite the enormous theoretical attention given to the evolutionary consequences of sexual reproduction, the validity of the key assumptions on which the theory depends rarely has been evaluated. It is often argued that a reduced ability to purge deleterious mutations condemns asexual lineages to an early extinction. However, most well characterized asexual lineages fail to exhibit the high levels of neutral allelic divergence expected in the absence of recombination. With purely descriptive data, it is difficult to evaluate whether this pattern is a consequence of the rapid demise of asexual lineages, an unusual degree of mutational stability, or recombination. Here, we show in mutation-accumulation lines of asexual Daphnia that the rate of loss of nucleotide heterozygosity by ameiotic recombination is substantially greater than the rate of introduction of new variation by mutation. This suggests that the evolutionary potential of asexual diploid species is not only a matter of mutation accumulation and reduced efficiency of selection, and [corrected] it underscores the limited utility of using neutral allelic divergence as an indicator of ancient asexuality.

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