The evolutionary advantage of fitness-dependent recombination in diploids: A deterministic mutation–selection balance model

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Recombination's omnipresence in nature is one of the most intriguing problems in evolutionary biology. The question of why recombination exhibits certain general features is no less interesting than that of why it exists at all. One such feature is recombination's fitness dependence (FD). The so far developed population genetics models have focused on the evolution of FD recombination mainly in haploids, although the empirical evidence for this phenomenon comes mostly from diploids. Using numerical analysis of modifier models for infinite panmictic populations, we show here that FD recombination can be evolutionarily advantageous in diploids subjected to purifying selection. We ascribe this advantage to the differential rate of disruption of lower- versus higher-fitness genotypes, which can be manifested in selected systems with at least three loci. We also show that if the modifier is linked to such selected system, it can additionally benefit from modifying this linkage in a fitness-dependent manner. The revealed evolutionary advantage of FD recombination appeared robust to crossover interference within the selected system, either positive or negative. Remarkably, FD recombination was often favored in situations where any constant nonzero recombination was evolutionarily disfavored, implying a relaxation of the rather strict constraints on major parameters (e.g., selection intensity and epistasis) required for the evolutionary advantage of nonzero recombination formulated by classical models.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2074-2084
Number of pages11
JournalEcology and Evolution
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • diploids
  • fitness dependence
  • purifying selection
  • recombination
  • recombination modifier

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation

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