Sex, mixability, and modularity

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Jan 26;107(4):1452-7. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0910734106. Epub 2010 Jan 8.


The assumption that different genetic elements can make separate contributions to the same quantitative trait was originally made in order to reconcile biometry and Mendelism and ever since has been used in population genetics, specifically for the trait of fitness. Here we show that sex is responsible for the existence of separate genetic effects on fitness and, more generally, for the existence of a hierarchy of genetic evolutionary modules. Using the tools developed in the process, we also demonstrate that in terms of their fitness effects, separation and fusion of genes are associated with the increase and decrease of the recombination rate between them, respectively. Implications for sex and evolution theory are discussed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Genetic Fitness*
  • Genetic Loci
  • Haplotypes
  • Recombination, Genetic
  • Sex*