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Keywords:

  • inbreeding;
  • maternal inheritance;
  • mtDNA;
  • negative-assortative mating;
  • outbreeding;
  • positive-assortative mating

Because of maternal mtDNA inheritance, mtDNA mutations detrimental only in males are not expected to be selected against, an effect termed the “mother's curse.” However, if there is positive-assortative mating, equivalent to what was called “inbreeding” by Wade and Brandvain (2009), then selection can act to reduce the frequency of these male-specific detrimental mtDNA mutants. On the other hand, as shown here negative-assortative mating, or “outbreeding, ” paradoxically can result in an increase in the frequency of male-specific detrimental mtDNA mutants. The implications of these findings are briefly discussed.