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Why Are Sex and Recombination So Common?


Address for correspondence: Lilach Hadany, Department of Biology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242. Voice: 319-335-3669.


The abundance of sex and recombination is still one of the most puzzling questions in the theory of evolution: Most models find that recombination can evolve, but only under a limited range of parameters. Here we review the major models and supporting evidence, concentrating on recent approaches where more realistic assumptions help explain the evolution of sex and recombination under a wider parameter range: finite populations, selection over long genomes, variation in recombination across the genome, and plasticity of sex and recombination. We discuss the similarities and differences between the evolution of sex and that of recombination.