Environmental change, mutational load and the advantage of sexual reproduction

Acta Biotheoretica 35 (3) (1986)
There is evidence that asexual reproduction has a long-term disadvantage when compared to sexual reproduction. This disadvantage is usually assumed to arise from the more efficient incorporation of advantageous mutations by sexual populations. We consider here the effect on asexual and sexual populations of changes in the fitness of harmful mutations. It is shown that the re-establishment of equilibrium following environmental change is generally faster in sexual populations, and that the mutational load experienced by the sexual population can be significantly less during this period than that experienced by an asexual one. Changes in the fitness of harmful mutations may therefore impose a greater long-term disadvantage on asexual populations than those which are sexual.
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