On Sex, Mate Selection and the Red Queen



Ochoa G & Jaffe K (1999) On Sex, Mate Selection and the Red Queen. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 199 (1), pp. 1-9.

The widespread occurrence of sexual reproduction despite the two-fold disadvantage of producing males, is still an unsolved mystery in evolutionary biology. One explanatory theory, called the "Red Queen" hypothesis, states that sex is an adaptation to escape from parasites. A more recent hypothesis, the mate selection hypothesis, assumes that non-random mating, possible only with sex, accelerates the evolution of beneficial traits. This paper tests these two hypotheses, using an agent-based or "micro-analytic" evolutionary algorithm where host-parasite interaction is simulated adhering to biological reality. While previous simpler models testing the "Red Queen" hypothesis considered mainly haploid hosts, stable population density, random mating and simplified expression of fitness, our more realistic model allows diploidy, mate selection, live history constraints and variable population densities. Results suggest that the Red Queen hypothesis is not valid for more realistic evolutionary scenarios and that each of the two hypotheses tested seem to explain partially but not exhaustively the adaptive value of sex. Based on the results we suggest that sexual populations in nature should avoid both, maximizing outbreeding or maximizing inbreeding and should acquire mate selection strategies which favour optimal ranges of genetic mixing in accordance with environmental challenges.

; Human evolution; Sex differences.

Journal of Theoretical Biology: Volume 199, Issue 1

Publication date31/07/1999

People (1)


Professor Gabriela Ochoa

Professor Gabriela Ochoa

Professor, Computing Science