Condition-dependent sex: Who does it, when and why?

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Abstract

We review the phenomenon of condition-dependent sex-where individuals’ condition affects the likelihood that they will reproduce sexually rather than asexually. In recent years, condition-dependent sex has been studied both theoretically and empirically. Empirical results in microbes, fungi and plants support the theoretical prediction that negative condition-dependent sex, in which individuals in poor condition are more likely to reproduce sexually, can be evolutionarily advantageous under a wide range of settings. Here, we review the evidence for condition-dependent sex and its potential implications for the long-term survival and adaptability of populations. We conclude by asking why condition-dependent sex is not more commonly observed, and by considering generalizations of condition-dependent sex that might apply even for obligate sexuals.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20150539
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Volume371
Issue number1706
DOIs
StatePublished - 19 Oct 2016

Keywords

  • Abandon-ship
  • Evolution of sex
  • Fitness-associated recombination
  • Sexual reproduction
  • Stress-induced variation

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