February 29, 2024

How a Grasshopper Gave Up Sex, Took Up Cloning

Entirely passing up sexual recreation makes the all-female types, called Warramaba virgo, something of an abnormality. Lots of pests can reproduce without the need for a partner, conventional biological knowledge says that animals mate to refresh their genomes so that they dont propagate hazardous or deadly anomalies– suggesting that asexually replicating species must be at an evolutionary disadvantage. Darren Parker, an evolutionary biologist at Bangor University in the UK, also points out that W. virgo hasnt outcompeted its progenitor types, only effectively existed together with them, recommending that any boost in reproductive output that the clones gain from not needing a partner isnt enough to make them more effective overall. Parker has previously demonstrated that asexually reproducing stick pest species of the Timema genus do reveal the hereditary decay predicted by evolutionary theory.Yet if the insect study is correct and parthenogenesis really doesnt hurt some types chances of survival, it could add to a dispute on another question: Why is this strategy so uncommon, and why does sexual reproduction dominate the animal kingdom? Whatever the reason that parthenogenetic types are not more common, Alexandre Kuhn of Walloon Agricultural Research Centre in Belgium says over email that the insect study “undoubtedly” challenges the idea that theyre naturally even worse off than sexually replicating types, particularly because it permits hybrids to reproduce.

Numerous insects can reproduce without the need for a partner, conventional biological wisdom says that animals mate to revitalize their genomes so that they dont propagate lethal or harmful mutations– suggesting that asexually reproducing species need to be at an evolutionary disadvantage. Parker has previously shown that asexually reproducing stick pest species of the Timema genus do reveal the genetic decay forecasted by evolutionary theory.Yet if the insect study is proper and parthenogenesis truly doesnt harm some types chances of survival, it could add to a debate on another concern: Why is this method so unusual, and why does sexual recreation dominate the animal kingdom? Whatever the reason that parthenogenetic species are not more common, Alexandre Kuhn of Walloon Agricultural Research Centre in Belgium says over e-mail that the insect study “unquestionably” challenges the concept that theyre inherently even worse off than sexually replicating types, especially because it permits hybrids to recreate.