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Copyright 2006 by the Genetics Society of America DOI: 10.1534/genetics.105.046680

Summary: Copyright Ó 2006 by the Genetics Society of America
DOI: 10.1534/genetics.105.046680
The Evolution of Mutation Rate in Finite Asexual Populations
Jean-Baptiste Andre´1
and Bernard Godelle2
Laboratoire Ge´nome, Populations, Interactions, Adaptation, USTL-IFREMER-CNRS UMR 5171,
Universite´ des Sciences et Techniques du Languedoc, 34095 Montpellier, France
Manuscript received June 8, 2005
Accepted for publication September 8, 2005
In this article, we model analytically the evolution of mutation rate in asexual organisms. Three selective
forces are present. First, everything else being equal, individuals with higher mutation rate have a larger
fitness, thanks to the energy and time saved by not replicating DNA accurately. Second, as a flip side, the
genome of these individuals is replicated with errors that may negatively affect fitness. Third, and
conversely, replication errors have a potential benefit if beneficial mutations are to be generated. Our
model describes the fate of modifiers of mutation rate under the three forces and allows us to predict the
long-term evolutionary trajectory of mutation rate. We obtain three major results. First, in asexuals, the
needs for both adaptation and genome preservation are not evolutionary forces that can stabilize mutation
rate at an intermediate optimum. When adaptation has a significant role, it primarily destabilizes mutation
rate and yields the emergence of strong-effect mutators. Second, in contrast to what is usually believed, the


Source: André, Jean-Baptiste - CNRS & Université Pierre-et-Marie-Curie, Paris 6


Collections: Biology and Medicine