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Genetics. 2000 Jun;155(2):961-8.

The rate of adaptation in asexuals.

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Department of Biology, University of Rochester, New York 14627, USA.


I study the population genetics of adaptation in asexuals. I show that the rate of adaptive substitution in an asexual species or nonrecombining chromosome region is a bell-shaped function of the mutation rate: at some point, increasing the mutation rate decreases the rate of substitution. Curiously, the mutation rate that maximizes the rate of adaptation depends solely on the strength of selection against deleterious mutations. In particular, adaptation is fastest when the genomic rate of mutation, U, equals the harmonic mean of selection coefficients against deleterious mutations, where we assume that selection for favorable alleles is milder than that against deleterious ones. This simple result is independent of the shape of the distribution of effects among favorable and deleterious mutations, population size, and the action of clonal interference. In the course of this work, I derive an approximation to the probability of fixation of a favorable mutation in an asexual genome or nonrecombining chromosome region in which both favorable and deleterious mutations occur.

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