Journal of Molecular Evolution

, Volume 14, Issue 4, pp 273-285

First online:

Selection and recombination in populations containing tandem multiplet genes

  • Arthur L. KochAffiliated withArgonne National Laboratory, Division of Biological and Medical Research

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Computer simulation for selective conditions that may apply in nature yielded three generalizations for prokaryotic organisms with recombinant mechanisms. (1) Selective forces can suffice to maintain a tandem gene family with the nearly optimum number of genes with little variance within the population. (2) Tandem genes will occur within the population unless the population is frequently cloned or unless the function due to a single copy is capable of over-providing the needs of the organism. (3) Even when there is no selective advantage or disadvantage due to extra gene copies, the population distribution becomes more skewed with time; and organisms with only single copies of the gene comprise a progressively larger fraction of the total. This may be the case with genes that function under strong cellular regulation.

Evolutionary implications of these calculations are that the occurrence of unequal recombination of tandem genes would greatly slow evolution via duplication of genetic material. This difficulty and its possible resolutions are discussed.