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Hill–Robertson interference maintained by Red Queen dynamics favours the evolution of sex

da Silva, J., Galbraith, J. D.
Journal of evolutionary biology 2017 v.30 no.5 pp. 994-1010
Caenorhabditis elegans, coevolution, epistasis, haplotypes, linkage disequilibrium, loci, meiosis, models, mutation, outcrossing, parasites, pathogens
Although it is well established theoretically that selective interference among mutations (Hill–Robertson interference) favours meiotic recombination, genomewide mean rates of mutation and strengths of selection appear too low to support this as the mechanism favouring recombination in nature. A possible solution to this discrepancy between theory and observation is that selection is at least intermittently very strong due to the antagonistic coevolution between a host and its parasites. The Red Queen theory posits that such coevolution generates fitness epistasis among loci, which generates negative linkage disequilibrium among beneficial mutations, which in turn favours recombination. This theory has received only limited support. However, Red Queen dynamics without epistasis may provide the ecological conditions that maintain strong and frequent selective interference in finite populations that indirectly selects for recombination. This hypothesis is developed here through the simulation of Red Queen dynamics. This approach required the development of a method to calculate the exact frequencies of multilocus haplotypes after recombination. Simulations show that recombination is favoured by the moderately weak selection of many loci involved in the interaction between a host and its parasites, which results in substitution rates that are compatible with empirical estimates. The model also reproduces the previously reported rapid increase in the rate of outcrossing in Caenorhabditis elegans coevolving with a bacterial pathogen.