The Evolutionary Ecology of Gynogenesis

  • Ingo Schlupp
  • Annual Review of Ecology Evolution and Systematics, December 2005, Annual Reviews
  • DOI: 10.1146/annurev.ecolsys.36.102003.152629

Gynogenesis as a form of asexual reproduction

What is it about?

Gynogenesis is a relatively unusual way to reproduce: clonal eggs have to be pseudo-fertilized by sperm of heterospecific males. Because the male genes are not incorporated, from the male perspective they invest (however small) with no or minimal return. My review discusses the origin and evolutionary consequences of gynogenesis, and what general lessons can be learned from this exciting reproductive mode.

Why is it important?

Not all organisms use sexual reproduction and one of the alternatives is to be all-female without recombination. In gynogenesis such females must mate with males of a different species to obtain sperm to fertilize their eggs. Gynogenetic females experience all the disadvantages of asexuality, such as accumulation of deleterious mutations and also the disadvantageous of sexuality, because they need to mate. The system seems terrible at first blush, but it is relatively common. The big question is why?


Dr. Ingo Schlupp
University of Oklahoma

This paper was a lot of fun to write. Asexual organisms are very cool and deserve more attention.

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