Recent advances in understanding of the evolution and maintenance of sex

Trends Ecol Evol. 1996 Feb;11(2):46-52. doi: 10.1016/0169-5347(96)81041-x.


The evolution of sex has been the focus of considerable attention during recent years. There is some consensus that the solution to the mystery is that sex either enables the creation and spread of advantageous traits (possibly parasite resistance) or helps to purge the genome of deleterious mutations. Recent experimental work has allowed testing of some of the assumptions underlying the theoretical models, most particularly whether interactions between genes are synergistic and whether the mutation rate is adequately high. However, although a variety of theories point out advantages to sex, most of them predict that a little sex and recombination can go a long way towards improving the fitness of a population, and it remains unclear why obligate sex is so common.