Send to

Choose Destination
Genet Res. 1992 Jun;59(3):215-25.

Population genetic aspects of deleterious cytoplasmic genomes and their effect on the evolution of sexual reproduction.

Author information

Institute of Cell, Animal and Population Biology, University of Edinburgh, Scotland.


A conflict of interest may arise between intra-cellular genomes and their host cell. The example explicitly investigated is that of a 'selfish' mitochondrion which increases its own rate of replication at the cost of reduced metabolic activity which is deleterious to the host cell. The results apply to deleterious cytoplasmic agents in general, such as intracellular parasites. Numerical simulation suggests that selfish mitochondria are able to invade an isogamous sexual population and are capable of reducing its fitness to below 5% of that prior to their invasion. Their spread is enhanced by decreasing the number of mitotic divisions between meioses, and this may constitute a significant constraint on the evolution of lifecycles. The presence of such deleterious cytoplasmic agents favours a nuclear mutation whose expression prevents cytoplasm from the other gamete entering the zygote at fertilization, resulting in uniparental inheritance of cytoplasm. Such a mutation appears physiologically plausible and can increase in frequency despite its deleterious effect in halving the amount of cytoplasm in the zygote. It is suggested that these were the conditions under which anisogamy evolved. These results have implications for the evolution of sexual reproduction. Standard theory suggests there is no immediate cost of sex, a twofold cost being incurred later as anisogamy evolves. The analysis described here predicts a large, rapid reduction in fitness associated with isogamous sexual reproduction, due to the spread of deleterious cytoplasmic agents with fitness only subsequently rising to a maximum twofold cost as uniparental inheritance of cytoplasm and anisogamy evolve.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center