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Keywords:

  • adaptation;
  • asexual;
  • clone;
  • evolution;
  • intraclonal variation;
  • interclonal variation;
  • mutation

Populations of clonal organisms are often represented as being evolutionary inert with persistent genetic fidelity. The advent of molecular methods and the corresponding increased genetic resolution of clonal populations forces a reconsideration of this viewpoint. We review molecular data from viruses, prokaryotes and eukaryotes to support the argument that clones possess a highly dynamic and adaptive genome. © 2003 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2003, 79, 193–208.