A May 2010 Science paper showing that the most genetically fit cow-pea weevils have fewer deleterious genetic mutations in their genomes than their less fit counterparts was retracted yesterday (September 1) by the authors because of flaws in their statistical analysis.

The results seemed to answer a long-standing question of how genetic variation can persist in a population even though individuals are under constant pressure from natural and sexual selection to weed out deleterious mutations, according to a news report from the University of Zurich in Switzerland. The researchers contended that their results offered further support of the hypothesis that genetic mutations are constantly appearing in populations, and that individuals with the fewest bad mutations will produce the most fit offspring.

The statistical analysis that led to the conclusions was flawed because the authors failed to acknowledge that predicted weevil offspring phenotypes and...


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