The effect of sex on the repeatability of evolution in different environments

Josianne Lachapelle, Nick Colegrave

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The adaptive function of sex has been extensively studied, while less consideration has been given to the potential downstream consequences of sex on evolution. Here we investigate one such potential consequence, the effect of sex on the repeatability of evolution. By affecting the repeatability of evolution, sex could have important implications for biodiversity, and for our ability to make predictions about the outcome of environmental change. We allowed asexual and sexual populations of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii to evolve in novel environments and monitored both their change in fitness and variance in fitness after evolution. Sex affected the repeatability of evolution by changing the importance of the effect of selection, chance and ancestral constraints on the outcome of the evolutionary process. In particular, the effects of sex were highly dependent on the initial genetic composition of the population and on the environment. Given the lack of a consistent effect of sex on repeatability across the environments used here, further studies to dissect in more detail the underlying reasons for these differences as well as studies in additional environments are required if we are to have a general understanding of the effects of sex on the repeatability of evolution.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1075-1087
Number of pages13
JournalEvolution: International Journal of Organic Evolution
Issue number4
Early online date9 Feb 2017
Publication statusPublished - 5 Apr 2017

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • recombination
  • selection
  • historical contingency
  • chance
  • experimental evolution
  • chlamydomonas reinhardtii


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