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Journal Articles PLoS ONE Year : 2013

Lineage selection and the maintenance of sex


Sex predominates in eukaryotes, despite its short-term disadvantage when compared to asexuality. Myriad models have suggested that short-term advantages of sex may be sufficient to counterbalance its twofold costs. However, despite decades of experimental work seeking such evidence, no evolutionary mechanism has yet achieved broad recognition as explanation for the maintenance of sex. We explore here, through lineage-selection models, the conditions favouring the maintenance of sex. In the first model, we allowed the rate of transition to asexuality to evolve, to determine whether lineage selection favoured species with the strongest constraints preventing the loss of sex. In the second model, we simulated more explicitly the mechanisms underlying the higher extinction rates of asexual lineages than of their sexual counterparts. We linked extinction rates to the ecological and/ or genetic features of lineages, thereby providing a formalisation of the only figure included in Darwin's "The origin of species". Our results reinforce the view that the long-term advantages of sex and lineage selection may provide the most satisfactory explanations for the maintenance of sex in eukaryotes, which is still poorly recognized, and provide figures and a simulation website for training and educational purposes. Short-term benefits may play a role, but it is also essential to take into account the selection of lineages for a thorough understanding of the maintenance of sex.

Dates and versions

hal-01800063 , version 1 (25-05-2018)



Damien M. de Vienne, Tatiana Giraud, Pierre-Henri Gouyon. Lineage selection and the maintenance of sex. PLoS ONE, 2013, 8 (6), pp.e66906. ⟨10.1371/journal.pone.0066906⟩. ⟨hal-01800063⟩
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