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Recombination and the evolution of coordinated phenotypic expression in a frequency-dependent game.

Arbilly, Michal; Motro, Uzi; Feldman, Marcus W; Lotem, Arnon.
Theor Popul Biol ; 80(4): 244-55, 2011 Dec.
Artículo en Inglés | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-21945887
A long standing question in evolutionary biology concerns the maintenance of adaptive combinations of traits in the presence of recombination. This problem may be solved if positive epistasis selects for reducing the rate of recombination between such traits, but this requires sufficiently strong epistasis. Here we use a model that we developed previously to analyze a frequency-dependent strategy game in asexual populations, to study how adaptive combinations of traits may be maintained in the presence of recombination when epistasis is too weak to select for genetic linkage. Previously, in the asexual case, our model demonstrated the evolution of adaptive associations between social foraging strategies and learning rules. We verify that these adaptive associations, which are represented by different two-locus haplotypes, can easily be broken by genetic recombination. We also confirm that a modifier allele that reduces the rate of recombination fails to evolve (due to weak epistasis). However, we find that under the same conditions of weak epistasis, there is an alternative mechanism that allows an association between traits to evolve. This is based on a genetic switch that responds to the presence of one social foraging allele by activating one of the two alternative learning alleles that are carried by all individuals. We suggest that such coordinated phenotypic expression by genetic switches offers a general and robust mechanism for the evolution of adaptive combinations of traits in the presence of recombination.