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The advantage of sex: Reinserting fluctuating selection in the pluralist approach

Abstract : The advantage of sex, and its fixation in some clades and species all over the eukaryote tree of life, is considered an evolutionary enigma, especially regarding its assumed twofold cost. Several likely hypotheses have been proposed such as (1) a better response to the negative frequency-dependent selection imposed by the "Red Queen" hypothesis; (2) the competition between siblings induced by the Tangled Bank hypothesis; (3) the existence of genetic and of (4) ecological factors that can diminish the cost of sex to less than the standard assumed twofold ; and (5) a better maintenance of genetic diversity and its resulting phenotypic variation, providing a selective advantage in randomly fluctuating environments. While these hypotheses have mostly been studied separately, they can also act simultaneously. This was advocated by several studies which presented a pluralist point of view. Only three among the five causes cited above were considered yet in such a framework: the Red Queen hypothesis, the Tangled Bank and the genetic factors lowering the cost of sex. We thus simulated the evolution of a finite mutating population undergoing negative frequency-dependent selection on phenotypes and a twofold (or less) cost of sexuality, experiencing randomly fluctuating selection along generations. The individuals inherited their reproductive modes, either clonal or sexual. We found that exclusive sexuality begins to fix in populations exposed to environmental variation that exceeds the width of one ecological niche (twice the standard deviation of a Gaussian response to environment). This threshold was lowered by increasing negative frequency-dependent selection and when reducing the twofold cost of sex. It contributes advocating that the different processes involved in a short-term advantage of sex and recombination can act in combination to favor the fixation of sexual reproduction in populations.
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Contributor : Eric Wajnberg Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Wednesday, August 3, 2022 - 3:51:45 PM
Last modification on : Monday, September 12, 2022 - 10:56:01 AM


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Jean-Sébastien Pierre, Solenn Stoeckel, Eric Wajnberg. The advantage of sex: Reinserting fluctuating selection in the pluralist approach. PLoS ONE, Public Library of Science, 2022, 17 (8), pp.1-15. ⟨10.1371/journal.pone.0272134⟩. ⟨hal-03745020⟩



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