Asexual Amoebae Escape Muller's Ratchet through Polyploidy

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Abstract

While some amoebae reproduce sexually, many amoebae (e.g., Acanthamoeba, Naegleria) reproduce asexually and therefore, according to popular doctrine, are likely to have been genetically disadvantaged as a consequence. In the absence of sex, mutations are proposed to accumulate by a mechanism known as Muller's ratchet. I hypothesise that amoebae can escape the ravages of accumulated mutation by virtue of their being polyploid. The polyploid state reduces spontaneous mutation accumulation by gene conversion, the freshly mutated copy being corrected by the presence of the many other wild-type copies. In this manner these amoebae reap the benefits of an asexual reproductive existence: principally, that it is rapid and convenient. Evidence for this mechanism comes from polyploid plants, bacteria, and archaea.

Original languageEnglish
JournalTrends in Parasitology
Volume32
Issue number11
Early online date3 Sep 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2016

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