Meiotic faults as a major cause of offspring inviability

Comparative evidence and implications for the evolution of sex

Daniel Levitis, Kolea Zimmerman, Anne Pringle

Research output: Contribution to conference without publisher/journalConference abstract for conferenceResearch

Abstract

The extensive literature on the costs and benefits of sexual reproduction often concludes that increased offspring viability is a benefit of sexual reproduction as compared to parthenogenesis. We show that all comparisons contributing to this conclusion involve cases of meiotic parthenogenesis, the most sex-like form of asex. Meiotic parthenogenesis does consistently achieve lower offspring viability than does sex. However when sexual reproduction is compared to forms of asex that don't involve meiosis, asex results in higher offspring viability. Combined with experimental and demographic data, this result demonstrates that failures associated with meiosis are a major cause of offspring inviability not only for meiotic parthenogenesis, but for sexual reproducers such as humans. Meiosis is necessary for genetic recombination in eukaryotes, but is vestigial, and costly, in parthenogens. The question of why meiosis persists in parthenogens despite its clear fitness costs and lack of benefits for them is addressed in terms of mechanistic constraints upon what selection can achieve. This provides a clear example of evolutionary inertia having a major and maladaptive effect on the demography of a wide range of organisms.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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Meiotic faults as a major cause of offspring inviability : Comparative evidence and implications for the evolution of sex. / Levitis, Daniel; Zimmerman, Kolea; Pringle, Anne.

2014.

Research output: Contribution to conference without publisher/journalConference abstract for conferenceResearch

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T2 - Comparative evidence and implications for the evolution of sex

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AU - Zimmerman, Kolea

AU - Pringle, Anne

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N2 - The extensive literature on the costs and benefits of sexual reproduction often concludes that increased offspring viability is a benefit of sexual reproduction as compared to parthenogenesis. We show that all comparisons contributing to this conclusion involve cases of meiotic parthenogenesis, the most sex-like form of asex. Meiotic parthenogenesis does consistently achieve lower offspring viability than does sex. However when sexual reproduction is compared to forms of asex that don't involve meiosis, asex results in higher offspring viability. Combined with experimental and demographic data, this result demonstrates that failures associated with meiosis are a major cause of offspring inviability not only for meiotic parthenogenesis, but for sexual reproducers such as humans. Meiosis is necessary for genetic recombination in eukaryotes, but is vestigial, and costly, in parthenogens. The question of why meiosis persists in parthenogens despite its clear fitness costs and lack of benefits for them is addressed in terms of mechanistic constraints upon what selection can achieve. This provides a clear example of evolutionary inertia having a major and maladaptive effect on the demography of a wide range of organisms.

AB - The extensive literature on the costs and benefits of sexual reproduction often concludes that increased offspring viability is a benefit of sexual reproduction as compared to parthenogenesis. We show that all comparisons contributing to this conclusion involve cases of meiotic parthenogenesis, the most sex-like form of asex. Meiotic parthenogenesis does consistently achieve lower offspring viability than does sex. However when sexual reproduction is compared to forms of asex that don't involve meiosis, asex results in higher offspring viability. Combined with experimental and demographic data, this result demonstrates that failures associated with meiosis are a major cause of offspring inviability not only for meiotic parthenogenesis, but for sexual reproducers such as humans. Meiosis is necessary for genetic recombination in eukaryotes, but is vestigial, and costly, in parthenogens. The question of why meiosis persists in parthenogens despite its clear fitness costs and lack of benefits for them is addressed in terms of mechanistic constraints upon what selection can achieve. This provides a clear example of evolutionary inertia having a major and maladaptive effect on the demography of a wide range of organisms.

M3 - Conference abstract for conference

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