The role of recombination in evolutionary rescue Journal Article


Author(s): Uecker, Hildegard; Hermisson, Joachim
Article Title: The role of recombination in evolutionary rescue
Affiliation IST Austria
Abstract: How likely is it that a population escapes extinction through adaptive evolution? The answer to this question is of great relevance in conservation biology, where we aim at species’ rescue and the maintenance of biodiversity, and in agriculture and medicine, where we seek to hamper the emergence of pesticide or drug resistance. By reshuffling the genome, recombination has two antagonistic effects on the probability of evolutionary rescue: It generates and it breaks up favorable gene combinations. Which of the two effects prevails depends on the fitness effects of mutations and on the impact of stochasticity on the allele frequencies. In this article, we analyze a mathematical model for rescue after a sudden environmental change when adaptation is contingent on mutations at two loci. The analysis reveals a complex nonlinear dependence of population survival on recombination. We moreover find that, counterintuitively, a fast eradication of the wild type can promote rescue in the presence of recombination. The model also shows that two-step rescue is not unlikely to happen and can even be more likely than single-step rescue (where adaptation relies on a single mutation), depending on the circumstances.
Keywords: Population Dynamics; drift; Epistasis; Ecology; Rapid adaptation
Journal Title: Genetics
Volume: 202
Issue 2
ISSN: 0016-6731
Publisher: Genetics Society of America  
Date Published: 2016-02-01
Start Page: 721
End Page: 732
URL:
DOI: 10.1534/genetics.115.180299
Notes: This work was made possible by a “For Women in Science” fellowship (L’Oréal Österreich in cooperation with the Austrian Commission for the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization and the Austrian Academy of Sciences with financial support from the Federal Ministry for Science and Research Austria) and European Research Council grant 250152 (to Nick Barton).
Open access: yes (repository)