Nature Reviews Genetics 8, 139-149 (February 2007) | doi:10.1038/nrg1985

The evolution of sex: empirical insights into the roles of epistasis and drift

J. Arjan G. M. de Visser1 & Santiago F. Elena2  About the authors


Despite many years of theoretical and experimental work, the explanation for why sex is so common as a reproductive strategy continues to resist understanding. Recent empirical work has addressed key questions in this field, especially regarding rates of mutation accumulation in sexual and asexual organisms, and the roles of negative epistasis and drift as sources of adaptive constraint in asexually reproducing organisms. At the same time, new ideas about the evolution of sexual recombination are being tested, including intriguing suggestions of an important interplay between sex and genetic architecture, which indicate that sex and recombination could have affected their own evolution.

Author affiliations

  1. Laboratory of Genetics, Wageningen University, 6703 BD Wageningen, The Netherlands.
  2. Instituto de Biología Molecular y Celular de Plantas, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas-UPV, 46022 València, Spain.

Correspondence to: J. Arjan G. M. de Visser1 Email:

Correspondence to: Santiago F. Elena2 Email:


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