A selfish origin for recombination

J Theor Biol. 2003 Aug 7;223(3):335-46. doi: 10.1016/s0022-5193(03)00102-4.


Recent findings of molecular biology show that recombination is initiated by interactions between homologous chromosomes and that an allele can induce the initiation of recombination on the homolog. Since gene conversion at the site of initiation is strong enough to promote the transmission of that allele, recombination may be a way for a self-promoting element to spread, even if it gives no advantage to the individual or to the population. I develop a simple model and discuss available molecular evidence in support of this hypothesis. A consequent argument is that with asexual reproduction the evolution of recombination leads to an intragenomic conflict, and a possible outcome of this conflict may be the origin of sexual reproduction.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Models, Genetic*
  • Recombination, Genetic*
  • Reproduction*