Modeling the evolution of recombination plasticity: A prospective review

Sviatoslav R. Rybnikov, Zeev Frenkel, Sariel Hübner, Daniel B. Weissman, Abraham B. Korol

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Meiotic recombination is one of the main sources of genetic variation, a fundamental factor in the evolutionary adaptation of sexual eukaryotes. Yet, the role of variation in recombination rate and other recombination features remains underexplored. In this review, we focus on the sensitivity of recombination rates to different extrinsic and intrinsic factors. We briefly present the empirical evidence for recombination plasticity in response to environmental perturbations and/or poor genetic background and discuss theoretical models developed to explain how such plasticity could have evolved and how it can affect important population characteristics. We highlight a gap between the evidence, which comes mostly from experiments with diploids, and theory, which typically assumes haploid selection. Finally, we formulate open questions whose solving would help to outline conditions favoring recombination plasticity. This will contribute to answering the long-standing question of why sexual recombination exists despite its costs, since plastic recombination may be evolutionary advantageous even in selection regimes rejecting any non-zero constant recombination.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2200237
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. BioEssays published by Wiley Periodicals LLC.


  • environmental stressors
  • evolvability
  • genetic background
  • individual fitness
  • meiotic recombination
  • modifier models
  • plasticity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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