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Quantifying the threat of extinction from Muller's ratchet in the diploid Amazon molly (Poecilia formosa)

Loewe, L. and Lamatsch, D. (2008) Quantifying the threat of extinction from Muller's ratchet in the diploid Amazon molly (Poecilia formosa). BMC Evolutionary Biology, 8 (1). p. 88. ISSN 1471-2148

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The Amazon molly (Poecilia formosa) is a small unisexual fish that has been suspected of being threatened by extinction from the stochastic accumulation of slightly deleterious mutations that is caused by Muller's ratchet in non-recombining populations. However, no detailed quantification of the extent of this threat is available.


Here we quantify genomic decay in this fish by using a simple model of Muller's ratchet with the most realistic parameter combinations available employing the evolution@home global computing system. We also describe simple extensions of the standard model of Muller's ratchet that allow us to deal with selfing diploids, triploids and mitotic recombination. We show that Muller's ratchet creates a threat of extinction for the Amazon molly for many biologically realistic parameter combinations. In most cases, extinction is expected to occur within a time frame that is less than previous estimates of the age of the species, leading to a genomic decay paradox.


How then does the Amazon molly survive? Several biological processes could individually or in combination solve this genomic decay paradox, including paternal leakage of undamaged DNA from sexual sister species, compensatory mutations and many others. More research is needed to quantify the contribution of these potential solutions towards the survival of the Amazon molly and other (ancient) asexual species.

Item Type: Article
Institution: The University of Sheffield
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Science (Sheffield) > School of Biological Sciences (Sheffield) > Department of Animal and Plant Sciences (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Sheffield Import
Date Deposited: 01 Oct 2009 14:38
Last Modified: 01 Oct 2009 14:38
Published Version: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2148/8/88
Status: Published
Publisher: Biomed Central
Identification Number: 10.1186/1471-2148-8-88
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/9697

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