Recombination enhances protein adaptation in Drosophila melanogaster

Curr Biol. 2005 Sep 20;15(18):1651-6. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2005.07.065.


Evolutionary theory predicts that the rate and level of adaptation will be enhanced in sexual relative to asexual genomes because sexual recombination facilitates the elimination of deleterious mutations and the fixation of beneficial ones by natural selection. To date, the most compelling evidence for this prediction comes from experimental evolution studies and from loci completely lacking recombination, such as those on Y chromosomes, which often show reduced adaptation and even degeneration. Here, by analyzing replacement and silent DNA polymorphism and divergence at 98 loci, I show that recombination increases the efficacy of protein adaptation throughout the genome of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. Genes residing in genomic regions with reduced recombination rates suffer a greater load of segregating, mildly deleterious mutations and fix fewer beneficial mutations than genes residing in regions with higher recombination rates. These findings suggest that the capacity to respond to natural selection varies with recombination rate across the genome, consistent with theory on the evolutionary advantages of sex and recombination.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Biological / genetics*
  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Drosophila Proteins / genetics*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics*
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Polymorphism, Genetic*
  • Proteomics
  • Recombination, Genetic / genetics*
  • Selection, Genetic*
  • Sex


  • Drosophila Proteins