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J Evol Biol. 2006 May;19(3):869-78.

Asymmetric gene flow and constraints on adaptation caused by sex ratio distorters.

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Center for Ecological Research, Kyoto University, Japan.


Asymmetric gene flow is generally believed to oppose natural selection and potentially impede adaptation. Whilst the cause of asymmetric gene flow has been seen largely in terms of variation in population density over space, asymmetric gene flow can also result from varying sex ratios across subpopulations with similar population sizes. We model the process of adaptation in a scenario in which two adjacent subpopulations have different sex ratios, associated with different levels of infection with maternally inherited endosymbionts that selectively kill male hosts. Two models are analyzed in detail. First, we consider one host locus with two alleles, each of which possesses a selective advantage in one of the subpopulations. We found that local adaptation can strongly be impeded in the subpopulation with the more female biased population sex ratio. Second, we analyze host alleles that provide resistance against the male-killing (MK) endosymbionts and show that asymmetric gene flow can prevent the spread of such alleles under certain conditions. These results might have important implications for the coevolution of MK bacteria and their hosts.

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