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Genetics. 1996 Sep;144(1):427-37.

Heterozygosity, heteromorphy, and phylogenetic trees in asexual eukaryotes.

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Department of Molecular Genetics, Ohio State University, Columbus 43210, USA.


Little attention has been paid to the consequences of long-term asexual reproduction for sequence evolution in diploid or polyploid eukaryotic organisms. Some elementary theory shows that the amount of neutral sequence divergence between two alleles of a protein-coding gene in an asexual individual will be greater than that in a sexual species by a factor of 2tu, where t is the number of generations since sexual reproduction was lost and u is the mutation rate per generation in the asexual lineage. Phylogenetic trees based on only one allele from each of two or more species will show incorrect divergence times and, more often than not, incorrect topologies. This allele sequence divergence can be stopped temporarily by mitotic gene conversion, mitotic crossing-over, or ploidy reduction. If these convergence events are rare, ancient asexual lineages can be recognized by their high allele sequence divergence. At intermediate frequencies of convergence events, it will be impossible to reconstruct the correct phylogeny of an asexual clade from the sequences of protein coding genes. Convergence may be limited by allele sequence divergence and heterozygous chromosomal rearrangements which reduce the homology needed for recombination and result in aneuploidy after crossing-over or ploidy cycles.

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