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J Evol Biol. 2012 Aug;25(8):1463-71. doi: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2012.02539.x. Epub 2012 May 18.

Mate choice among yeast gametes can purge deleterious mutations.

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CoMPLEX, University College London, Gower St., London, UK.


Meiosis in Saccharomyces yeast produces four haploid gametes that usually fuse with each other, an extreme form of self-fertilization among the products of a single meiosis known as automixis. The gametes signal to each other with sex pheromone. Better-quality gametes produce stronger signals and are preferred as mates. We suggest that the function of this signalling system is to enable mate choice among the four gametes from a single meiosis and so to promote the clearance of deleterious mutations. To support this claim, we construct a mathematical model that shows that signalling during automixis (i) improves the long-term fitness of a yeast colony and (ii) lowers its mutational load. We also show that the benefit to signalling is greater with larger numbers of segregating mutations.

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