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Sexual reproduction as bet-hedging


Li, Xiang-Yi; Lehtonen, Jussi; Kokko, Hanna (2016). Sexual reproduction as bet-hedging. bioRxiv:1-38.

Abstract

In evolutionary biology, bet-hedging refers to a strategy that reduces the variance of reproductive success at the cost of reduced mean reproductive success. In unpredictably fluctuating environments, bet-hedgers benefit from higher geometric mean fitness despite having lower arithmetic mean fitness than their specialist competitors. We examine the extent to which sexual reproduction can be considered a type of bet-hedging, by clarifying past arguments, examining parallels and differences to evolutionary games, and by presenting a simple model examining geometric and arithmetic mean payoffs of sexual and asexual reproduction. Sex typically has lower arithmetic mean fitness than asex, while the geometric mean fitness can be higher if sexually produced offspring are not identical. However, asexual individuals that are heterozygotes can gain conservative bet-hedging benefits of similar magnitude while avoiding the costs of sex. This highlights that bet-hedging always has to be specified relative to the payoff structure of relevant competitors. It also makes it unlikely that sex, at least when associated with significant male production, evolves solely based on bet-hedging in the context of frequently and repeatedly occupied environmental states. Future work could usefully consider bet-hedging in open-ended evolutionary scenarios with de novo mutations.

Abstract

In evolutionary biology, bet-hedging refers to a strategy that reduces the variance of reproductive success at the cost of reduced mean reproductive success. In unpredictably fluctuating environments, bet-hedgers benefit from higher geometric mean fitness despite having lower arithmetic mean fitness than their specialist competitors. We examine the extent to which sexual reproduction can be considered a type of bet-hedging, by clarifying past arguments, examining parallels and differences to evolutionary games, and by presenting a simple model examining geometric and arithmetic mean payoffs of sexual and asexual reproduction. Sex typically has lower arithmetic mean fitness than asex, while the geometric mean fitness can be higher if sexually produced offspring are not identical. However, asexual individuals that are heterozygotes can gain conservative bet-hedging benefits of similar magnitude while avoiding the costs of sex. This highlights that bet-hedging always has to be specified relative to the payoff structure of relevant competitors. It also makes it unlikely that sex, at least when associated with significant male production, evolves solely based on bet-hedging in the context of frequently and repeatedly occupied environmental states. Future work could usefully consider bet-hedging in open-ended evolutionary scenarios with de novo mutations.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Language:English
Date:2016
Deposited On:30 May 2017 13:23
Last Modified:31 May 2017 03:10
Publisher:Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Free access at:Official URL. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1101/103390
Official URL:http://biorxiv.org/content/biorxiv/early/2017/01/26/103390.full.pdf

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Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)