University of Edinburgh researchers studied sexual reproduction in tiny fruit flies to learn more about how DNA is randomly shuffled when the genes of two parents combine to create a new individual, the journal Genome Biology and Evolution reports.
They suggest the findings may also pave the way for higher yielding crop species, according to an Edinburgh statement.
They found that this recombination of genetic material allows for damaging elements of DNA - which might cause disease or other potential drawbacks - to be weeded out within a few generations.
Individuals who inherit healthy genes tend to flourish and pass on their DNA to the next generation, while weaker individuals are more likely to die without reproducing.
The findings, made possible by genome sequencing technology, provide strong evidence to back up a long-standing theory that sexual reproduction, rather than asexual cloning of an individual, has long-term benefits for a species.