Sex releases the speed limit on evolution

N Colegrave*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Explaining the evolutionary maintenance of sex remains a key problem in evolutionary biology(1-3). One potential benefit of sex is that it may allow a more rapid adaptive response when environmental conditions change, by increasing the efficiency with which selection can fix beneficial mutations(4-7). Here I show that sex can increase the rate of adaptation in the facultatively sexual single-celled chlorophyte Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, but that the benefits of sex depend crucially on the size of the population that is adapting: sex has a marked effect in large populations but little effect in small populations. Several mechanisms have been proposed to explain the benefits of sex in a novel environment, including stochastic effects in small populations, clonal interference and epistasis between beneficial alleles. These results indicate that clonal interference is important in this system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)664-666
Number of pages3
JournalNature
Volume420
Issue number6916
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 12 Dec 2002

Keywords

  • TERM EXPERIMENTAL EVOLUTION
  • ESCHERICHIA-COLI
  • RECOMBINATION
  • SELECTION
  • ADAPTATION

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