Finite population size generates interference between selected loci, which has been shown to favour increased rates of recombination. In this article, I present different analytical models exploring selection acting on a 'sex modifier locus' (that affects the relative investment into asexual and sexual reproduction) in a finite population. Two forms of selective forces act on the modifier: direct selection due to intrinsic costs associated with sexual reproduction and indirect selection generated by one or two other loci affecting fitness. The results show that indirect selective forces differ from those acting on a recombination modifier even in the case of a haploid population: in particular, a single selected locus generates indirect selection for sex, while two loci are required in the case of a recombination modifier. This effect stems from the fact that modifier alleles increasing sex escape more easily from low-fitness genetic backgrounds than alleles coding for lower rates of sex. Extrapolating the results from three-locus models to a large number of loci at mutation-selection balance indicates that in the parameter range where indirect selection is strong enough to outweigh a substantial cost of sex, interactions between selected loci have a stronger effect than the sum of individual effects of each selected locus. Comparisons with multilocus simulation results show that such extrapolations may provide correct predictions for the evolutionarily stable rate of sex, unless the cost of sex is high.
Keywords: deleterious mutation; evolution of sex; genetic drift; modifier model; multilocus model; selection.
© 2014 The Author. Journal of Evolutionary Biology © 2014 European Society For Evolutionary Biology.