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Genetics. 2007 Jul;176(3):1713-27. Epub 2007 May 4.

The evolution of condition-dependent sex in the face of high costs.

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  • 1Department of Biological Sciences, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa 52242, USA.


Facultatively sexual organisms often engage in sex more often when in poor condition. We show that such condition-dependent sex carries evolutionary advantages and can explain the evolution of sexual reproduction even when sex entails high costs. Specifically, we show that alleles promoting individuals of low fitness to have sex more often than individuals of high fitness spread through a population. Such alleles are more likely to segregate out of bad genetic backgrounds and onto good genetic backgrounds, where they tend to remain. This "abandon-ship" mechanism provides a plausible model for the evolution and maintenance of facultative sex.

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