Phylogenetic analysis suggests that sociality is associated with reduced effectiveness of selection
Population genetic theory predicts that the efficacy of natural selection in a self-fertilizing species should be lower than its outcrossing relatives because of the reduction in the effective population size (N(e)) in the former brought about by inbreeding. However, previous analyses comparing Arabidopsis thaliana (selfer) with A. lyrata (outcrosser) have not found conclusive support for this prediction. In this study, we addressed this issue by examining silent site polymorphisms (synonymous and intronic), which are expected to be informative about changes in N(e). Two comparisons were made: A. thaliana versus A. lyrata and Capsella rubella (selfer) versus C. grandiflora (outcrosser). Extensive polymorphism data sets were obtained by compiling published data from the literature and by sequencing 354 exon loci in C. rubella and 89 additional loci in C. grandiflora. To extract information from the data effectively for studying these questions, we extended two recently developed models in order to investigate detailed selective differences between synonymous codons, mutational biases, and biased gene conversion (BGC), taking into account the effects of recent changes in population size. We found evidence that selection on synonymous codons is significantly weaker in the selfers compared with the outcrossers and that this difference cannot be fully accounted for by mutational biases or BGC.