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To have and not to have sex: when multiple evolutions of conditional use of sex elegantly solve the question in the ant genus Cataglyphis

Abstract : Organisms use an amazingly large diversity of mechanisms to pass on their genes to the next generation. Sex is ancestral in eukaryotes, where it remains the most widespread way of reproduction. By combining one's genes with those of a partner, sex entails a dilution of one's genes at each generation. Evolution has been particularly creative in devising mechanisms allowing females to avoid this dilution, from classical parthenogenesis to the elimination of male genes after fertilization (Bell, 1982). Moreover, the term parthenogenesis include various forms. Parthenogenesis can be used for female (thelytoky) or male (arrhenotoky) production and it can be associated with different cytological mechanisms, from strict clonality to meiotic division with the fusion of two of the four products of meiosis to restore diploidy (Suomalainen, Saura, & Lokki, 1987). Understanding the evolution of these diverse reproductive systems remains one of the most exciting and longstanding questions in evolutionary biology. By characterizing the reproductive systems of 11 species from the thermophilic ant genus Cataglyphis, in this issue of Molecular Ecology, Kuhn, Darras, Paknia, & Aron (2020) show the high lability of parthenogenesis, with multiple independent evolution of facultative thelytoky from sexual ancestors. The diversity of life history traits and social characteristics of this genus (e.g. mode of colony foundation, female polyandry) provides a unique and exciting opportunity to investigate the social and environmental factors driving the evolution of reproductive systems in social Hymenoptera.
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Claudie Doums, Thibaud Monnin. To have and not to have sex: when multiple evolutions of conditional use of sex elegantly solve the question in the ant genus Cataglyphis. Molecular Ecology, Wiley, 2020, ⟨10.1111/mec.15352⟩. ⟨hal-02441683⟩



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