The many costs of sex
Journal club: Evolutionary ecology forum
Topic: Lehtonen, Jennions & Kokko (2012) TREE, 3, 172–178.
Explaining the evolution of sex is challenging for biologists. A ‘twofold cost’ compared with asexual reproduction is often quoted. If a cost of this magnitude exists, the benefits of sex must be large for it to have evolved and be maintained. Focusing on benefits can be misleading, as this sidelines important questions about the cost of sex: what is the source of the twofold cost: males, genome dilution or both? Does the cost deviate from twofold? What other factors make sex costly? How should the costs of sex be empirically measured? The total cost of sex and how it varies in different contexts must be known to determine the benefits needed to account for the origin and maintenance of sex.