The origin of chromosomes I. Selection for linkage

J. Maynard Smith, E. SzathmaÀry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

65 Citations (Scopus)


A model is analysed of cells containing independently replicating genes, which segregate randomly when the cell divides. We follow the fate of a primitive chromosome, in which two genes are linked, so that they replicate and segregate together. Such a chromosome increases in frequency in the population provided that (i) the two genes act synergistically, so that a cell containing at least one copy of each grows faster than a cell lacking one or other, and (ii) the number of genes per cell is small. The increase in frequency occurs even if the chromosome takes twice as long as an individual gene to replicate, giving a two-fold selective disadvantage within a cell. The increase occurs because a gene that is linked does not run the risk of finding itself, in the next generation, in a cell that lacks its synergistic partner.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)437-446
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Theoretical Biology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 21 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Modelling and Simulation
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Applied Mathematics

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'The origin of chromosomes I. Selection for linkage'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this