The Evolutionary Interplay between Adaptation and Self-Fertilization

Matthew Hartfield*, Thomas Bataillon, Sylvain Glemin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Genome-wide surveys of nucleotide polymorphisms, obtained from next-generation sequencing, have uncovered numerous examples of adaptation in self-fertilizing organisms, especially regarding changes to climate, geography, and reproductive systems. Yet existing models for inferring attributes of adaptive mutations often assume idealized outcrossing populations, which risks mischaracterizing properties of these variants. Recent theoretical work is emphasizing how various aspects of self-fertilization affects adaptation, yet empirical data on these properties are lacking. We review theoretical and empirical studies demonstrating how self-fertilization alters the process of adaptation, illustrated using examples from current sequencing projects. We propose ideas for how future research can more accurately quantify aspects of adaptation in self-fertilizers, including incorporating the effects of standing variation, demographic history, and polygenic adaptation. Analysis of large-scale next-generation sequencing datasets are finding more examples of adaptive evolution at the genomic level.Advances in theoretical work has demonstrated how self-fertilisation affects different aspects of adaptation in these organisms, compared to outcrossers.Current software and statistical methods do not take different mating systems into account, which risks mischaracterising the presence or strength of adaptive mutations from genome scans.Development of new mathematical and statistical methods that explicitly consider self-fertilization and associated demographic effects will enable researchers to more accurately quantify adaptation in these organisms.

Original languageEnglish
JournalTrends in Genetics
Pages (from-to)420-431
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017


  • Adaptation
  • Demography
  • Dominance
  • Genomics
  • Invasions
  • Self-fertilization


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