Approximating the coalescent under facultative sex

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Genome studies of facultative sexual species, which can either reproduce sexually or asexually, are providing insight into the evolutionary consequences of mixed reproductive modes. It is currently unclear to what extent the evolutionary history of facultative sexuals’ genomes can be approximated by the standard coalescent, and if a coalescent effective population size Ne exists. Here, I determine if and when these approximations can be made. When sex is frequent (occurring at a frequency much greater than 1/N per reproduction per generation, for N the actual population size), the underlying genealogy can be approximated by the standard coalescent,with a coalescent Ne N. When sex is very rare (at frequency much lower than 1/N), approximations for the pairwise coalescent time can be obtained, which is strongly influenced by the frequencies of sex and mitotic gene conversion, rather than N. However, these terms do not translate into a coalescent Ne . These results are used to discuss the best sampling strategies for investigating the evolutionary history of facultative sexual species.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberesaa036
Pages (from-to)145–154
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Heredity
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jan 2021


  • faculative sex
  • gene conversion
  • genome analysis
  • population genetics
  • coalescent theory


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