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Heterosis from local drift load is likely insufficient to favor reversions to outcrossing

By Alexander Harkness, Emma E. Goldberg, Yaniv J Brandvain

Posted 28 Feb 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/273946

The evolutionary trajectory from cross- to self-fertilization is widely documented in nature, but results from several taxa also suggest that outcrossing may evolve in a formerly selfing population. Pop4 ulation genetic theory explains that selfing can evolve when its advantages overcome its immediate cost of inbreeding depression, but that this process will not run in reverse because a self-fertilizing population 6 purges itself of inbreeding depression. That is, the primary short-term advantage of cross-fertilization over self-fertilization depends on the existence of deleterious alleles exposed upon inbreeding. Here, 8 we explore whether outcrossing can evolve in selfing populations if allelic variation exists as divergence among populations. We consider two monomorphic populations of entirely self-fertilizing individuals, 10 introduce a modifier allele that increases the rate of cross-fertilization, and investigate whether the heterosis among populations is sufficient for the modifier to invade and fix. We find that, despite an initial 12 increase in the frequency of the outcrossing modifier, its fixation is possible only when populations harbor extremely large unique fixed genetic loads. These rare reversions to outcrossing become more likely 14 as the load becomes more polygenic, or when the modifier appears on a rare background, such as by dispersal of an outcrossing genotype into a selfing population.

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