The reason cited for sexual reproduction trumping over asexual reproduction broadly relies on the advantages of genetic diversity.

This completely overlooks the fact that a mutant which is able to reproduce asexually with some amount of genetic variation (editing, randomizing etc) would have more inclusive fitness?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Actually, the idea that sexual reproduction promotes genetic diversity is a more a myth that a reality. If you actually look at papers the develop models of the evolution of sexual reproduction, they rather talk about the evolution of a modifier locus and the importance of recombination and linkage disequilibrium. In any case, "promoting genetic diversity" is not a reason for which sexual reproduction would evolve as it refers to a species wide statistics. Finally, seeing diversity as "beneficial to the species" is also a potential misunderstanding. $\endgroup$
    – Remi.b
    Jun 24, 2018 at 15:37
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Your question is based upon the false belief of what models of the evolution of sexual reproduction tell. It is also based upon other misunderstandings explained above. For these reasons, I am voting to close. $\endgroup$
    – Remi.b
    Jun 24, 2018 at 15:40
  • $\begingroup$ I did not imply group selection. I was just stating that the books I have read (introductory) state that sexual reproduction survives mutant asexuals because of the advantages of genetic intermingling (e.g. the Red Queen hypothesis), this has the side effect of promoting genetic diversity. $\endgroup$
    – tselvan
    Jun 24, 2018 at 17:38
  • $\begingroup$ Can you please clarify sexual reproduction survives mutant asexuals? Also, just after you say because of the advantages of genetic intermingling (e.g. the Red Queen hypothesis). I don't know what you mean by "genetic intermingling" but RQ hyp. refers to an evolutionary arms race and does not (directly at least) "explain a fitness advantage". $\endgroup$
    – Remi.b
    Jun 25, 2018 at 14:49

1 Answer 1


This is a pretty big question so I'm going to focus on the core points.

It's not nearly so either-or, and really a range of two things: trait diversity and stability. Sheer diversity isn't sufficient to improve rate of adaptation. Stability in the sense that it's a good idea to hold on to successful traits.

In sexual reproduction, you have two sets (one set of traits from each parent) of proven survivable traits to draw from. Very roughly, it doubles the amount of positive feedback toward maximizing fitness for the environment the pair finds themselves in - of which pathogens are a major and quickly changing component.

In asexual reproduction, you have a single tested set of traits. Asexually reproducing organisms thus depend on things like horizontal gene transfer - proven traits from another organism. This has the effect of prolonging the amount of testing that takes place (one organism vs two), causing asexual organisms to be more adaptable to the circumstances they find themselves in compared to sexually reproducing organisms and vice versa.

Where I have written "proven" here, I am referring to the fact that the traits in question have survived in combination with the organism's other traits, as opposed to a totally new mutation that could have consequences before the organism has a chance to reproduce.

Related literature

  • $\begingroup$ Can you please backup your claims with a reference? I don't understand what you call 'trait' here. It sounds like you confound number of parents with number of traits. There are fair number of literature on the evolution of sexual reproduction but I have never seen anything sounding like your answer. $\endgroup$
    – Remi.b
    Jun 24, 2018 at 15:42
  • $\begingroup$ Is there any study on HGT being used particularly by asexually reproducing species? If this is an evolutionary winning card, I'd expect it to show a high prevalence for instance in rotifer Bdelloidea. $\endgroup$ Jun 24, 2018 at 16:21
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4632278 $\endgroup$
    – jzx
    Jun 24, 2018 at 16:56

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .