Sexual selection hinders adaptation in experimental populations of yeast

L. P. Reding, J. P. Swaddle, H. A. Murphy
  • Biology Letters, March 2013, Royal Society Publishing
  • DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2012.1202

Sexual selection contrains adaptation

What is it about?

Sexual selection, the processes that generate non-random mating success among individuals, likely effects how populations evolve through time. We allowed populations of baker's yeast, a small microorganism, to evolve to a new environment without sexual reproduction, without sexual selection, or with sexual selection. We found that populations subject to sexual selection adapted slower than asexual populations to the new environment.

Why is it important?

Sexual selection is ubiquitous among species. Our study suggests that in some cases, sexual selection can oppose natural selection, making it more difficult for species to adapt. This result has clear implications for conservation: species that are subject to intense sexual selection may be less likely to adapt, and more likely to go extinct, than those in which sexual selection plays a smaller role.

The following have contributed to this page: Luke Reding