Recombination and loss of complementation: a more than two-fold cost for parthenogenesis

J Evol Biol. 2004 Sep;17(5):1084-97. doi: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2004.00745.x.


Certain types of asexual reproduction lead to loss of complementation, that is unmasking of recessive deleterious alleles. A theoretical measure of this loss is calculated for apomixis, automixis and endomitosis in the cases of diploidy and polyploidy. The effect of the consequent unmasking of deleterious recessive mutations on fitness is also calculated. Results show that, depending on the number of lethal equivalents and on the frequency of recombination, the cost produced by loss of complementation after few generations of asexual reproduction may be greater than the two-fold cost of meiosis. Maintaining complementation may, therefore, provide a general short-term advantage for sexual reproduction. Apomixis can replace sexual reproduction under a wide range of parameters only if it is associated with triploidy or tetraploidy, which is consistent with our knowledge of the distribution of apomixis.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Chromosomes / genetics*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Inheritance Patterns / genetics
  • Meiosis / genetics
  • Models, Biological*
  • Parthenogenesis / genetics*
  • Ploidies
  • Recombination, Genetic / genetics*
  • Selection, Genetic*