Adaptation and maladaptation in selfing and outcrossing species: new mutations versus standing variation

Evolution. 2013 Jan;67(1):225-40. doi: 10.1111/j.1558-5646.2012.01778.x. Epub 2012 Sep 7.


Evolution of selfing from outcrossing recurrently occurred in many lineages, especially in flowering plants. Evolution of selfing induces dramatic changes in the population genetics functioning but its consequences on the dynamics of adaptation have been overlooked. We studied a simple one-locus model of adaptation where a population experiences an environmental change at a given time. We first determined the effect of the mating system on the genetic bases and the speed of adaptation, focusing on the dominance of beneficial mutations and the respective part of standing variation and new mutations. Then, we assumed that the environmental change is associated with population decline to determine the effect of the mating system on the probability of population extinction. Extending previous results, we found that adaptation is more efficient and extinction less likely in outcrossers when beneficial mutations are dominant and codominant and when standing variation plays a significant role in adaptation. However, given adaptation does occur, it is usually more rapid in selfers than in outcrossers. Our results bear implications for the evolution of the selfing syndrome, the dynamics of the domestication process, and the dead-end hypothesis that posits that selfing lineages are doomed to extinction on the long run.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Biological / genetics*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Environment
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Extinction, Biological
  • Genes, Dominant
  • Genetic Loci
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Hybridization, Genetic*
  • Inbreeding
  • Models, Genetic
  • Mutation*