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Sexual selection and the evolution of evolvability

Lookup NU author(s): Emerita Professor Marion Petrie, Dr Gilbert Roberts


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Here we show that sexual selection can have an effect on the rate of mutation. We simulated the fate of a genetic modifier of the mutation rate in a sexual population with and without sexual selection (modelled using a female choice mechanism). Female choice for 'good genes' should reduce variability among male subjects, leaving insufficient differences to maintain female preferences. However, female choice can actually increase genetic variability by supporting a higher mutation rate in sexually selected traits. Increasing the mutation rate will be selected against because of the resulting decline in mean fitness. However, it also increases the probability of rare beneficial mutations arising, and mating skew caused by female preferences for male subjects carrying those beneficials with few deleterious mutations ('good genes') can lead to a mutation rate above that expected under natural selection. A choice of two male subjects was sufficient for there to be a twofold increase in the mutation rate as opposed to a decrease found under random mating. © 2007 Nature Publishing Group All rights reserved.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Petrie M, Roberts G

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Heredity

Year: 2007

Volume: 98

Issue: 4

Pages: 198-205

ISSN (print): 0018-067X

ISSN (electronic): 1365-2540

Publisher: Nature Publishing Group


DOI: 10.1038/sj.hdy.6800921

PubMed id: 17119550


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