Genetic variation in organisms with sexual and asexual reproduction


 Bengt O. Bengtsson, Genetics, Sölvegatan 29, SE-223 62 Lund, Sweden. Tel.: +46 46 222 9890; fax: +46 4614 7874; e-mail: bengt_olle.bengtsson@


Abstract The genetic variation in a partially asexual organism is investigated by two models suited for different time scales. Only selectively neutral variation is considered. Model 1 shows, by the use of a coalescence argument, that three sexually derived individuals per generation are sufficient to give a population the same pattern of allelic variation as found in fully sexually reproducing organisms. With less than one sexual event every third generation, the characteristic pattern expected for asexual organisms appear, with strong allelic divergence between the gene copies in individuals. At intermediary levels of sexuality, a complex situation reigns. The pair-wise allelic divergence under partial sexuality exceeds, however, always the corresponding value under full sexuality. These results apply to large populations with stable reproductive systems. In a more general framework, Model 2 shows that a small number of sexual individuals per generation is sufficient to make an apparently asexual population highly genotypically variable. The time scale in terms of generations needed to produce this effect is given by the population size and the inverse of the rate of sexuality.