Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Biologists identify influence of environment on sexual vs. asexual reproduction

Date:
October 15, 2010
Source:
University of Toronto
Summary:
Evolutionary biologists have found that environment plays a key role in determining whether a species opts for sexual over asexual reproduction.

Evolutionary biologists at the University of Toronto (U of T) have found that environment plays a key role in determining whether a species opts for sexual over asexual reproduction.

The study, led by post-doctoral student Lutz Becks and Professor Aneil Agrawal of the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, found that species that inhabit spatially heterogenous environments -- habitats characterized by uneven concentrations of its own species among a rich variety of other animals and plants -- had higher rates of sexual reproduction than those in more homogenous environments.

"Sexual reproduction is pervasive across the tree of life," says Agrawal. "One of the classic questions in evolutionary biology is to determine why most organisms reproduce sexually rather than asexually. Whatever evolutionary force maintains this mode of reproduction across such a diversity of life must be one of the most powerful and important factors in biology. Our work suggests that spatial heterogeneity is one of these key factors."

Furthermore, sexual reproduction resulted in organisms that are adept across different environments, with different characteristics and more robust genetic constitutions than their asexually-reproducing counterparts.

"Put simply, sexual reproduction helps create genotypes that are better able to survive across different environments. In contrast, asexual reproduction yields types that are suited to only one environment," says Agrawal."

The scientists conducted their experiments with rotifers -- small aquatic organisms that are capable of both sexual and asexual reproduction. They allowed populations of rotifers to evolve in habitats that were either environmentally homogeneous or heterogeneous. Over a span of more than 70 generations, the tendency for sexual reproduction persisted at much higher levels in heterogeneous habitats and declined rapidly in homogeneous environments

The findings appear Oct. 13 in the journal Nature. The research is supported by funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and a fellowship from the Volkswagen Foundation in Germany awarded to Becks.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Toronto. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Lutz Becks, Aneil F. Agrawal. Higher rates of sex evolve in spatially heterogeneous environments. Nature, 2010; DOI: 10.1038/nature09449

Cite This Page:

University of Toronto. "Biologists identify influence of environment on sexual vs. asexual reproduction." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 October 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101014121158.htm>.
University of Toronto. (2010, October 15). Biologists identify influence of environment on sexual vs. asexual reproduction. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101014121158.htm
University of Toronto. "Biologists identify influence of environment on sexual vs. asexual reproduction." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101014121158.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Great British Farmland Boom

The Great British Farmland Boom

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 17, 2014) Britain's troubled Co-operative Group is preparing to cash in on nearly 18,000 acres of farmland in one of the biggest UK land sales in decades. As Ivor Bennett reports, the market timing couldn't be better, with farmland prices soaring over 270 percent in the last 10 years. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction

Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) With plenty of honking, flapping, and fluttering, more than three dozen Caribbean flamingos at Zoo Miami were rounded up today as the iconic exhibit was closed for renovations. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 16, 2014) Crocodile farming has been a challenge in Zimbabwe in recent years do the economic collapse and the financial crisis. But as Ciara Sutton reports one of Europe's biggest suppliers of skins to the luxury market has come up with an unusual survival strategy - vegetarian food. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins