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Am Nat. 2009 Jul;174 Suppl 1:S54-70. doi: 10.1086/599082.

Spatial heterogeneity and the evolution of sex in diploids.

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  • 1Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


Much of the theoretical work on the evolution of sex has focused on the effects of recombination. In diploids, segregation also occurs during sexual reproduction. Segregation breaks down some types of genetic associations that are not affected by recombination and thus influences the evolution of sex in ways that are not apparent from studying the evolution of recombination as a surrogate for sex. Here I examine the evolution of sex in diploids experiencing spatially heterogeneous selection. If divergent selection causes genetic differentiation, then migration can be a powerful force generating genetic associations that may not be favored by selection. An advantage to sex can arise from breaking down these associations. By examining modifiers of both sex and recombination, the model allows for a direct comparison of the forces acting on these related but different processes, illuminating the role of segregation. The model also includes inbreeding, which has been shown to be important for both segregation and recombination. I find that inbreeding affects the evolution of sex through segregation, not recombination. Several suggestions for empirical experiments are given.

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