Study shows value of sexual reproduction versus asexual reproduction

Jan 21, 2010

Living organisms have good reason for engaging in sexual, rather than asexual, reproduction according to Maurine Neiman, assistant professor of biology in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and researcher in the Roy J. Carver Center for Genomics.

In an article published in a recent issue of the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution, she and her colleagues, including John M. Logsdon Jr., associate professor of biology, examined the theory that , while requiring more time and energy than asexual reproduction, is also much more common among living organisms and, therefore, must be very beneficial.

The study looked at sexual, as well as asexual, varieties of a New Zealand freshwater snail, Potamopyrgus antipodarum, by sequencing mitochondrial genomes and found that the sexually reproducing had accumulated harmful DNA mutations at about half the rate of the asexual snails.

"This is the first study to compare mutation accumulation in a species where sexual individuals and asexual individuals regularly coexist, and thus provides the most direct evidence to date that sex helps to counter the accumulation of harmful mutations," said Neiman.

Neiman plans to continue her research such that a clearer understanding of the advantages of sex will offer a better understanding of the value of preserving within and among populations, species, and ecological communities.

Explore further: Evolution of marine crocodilians constrained by ocean temperatures

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flaredone
not rated yet Jan 21, 2010
I explained on my blog, the speed of evolution and mutation must remain always balances in accordance to life conditions. Prokaryota still rely to horizontal gene transfer, simply because they can divide fast. Sexual reproduction is too mutagenic and energetically expensive for tiny organisms with fast paced live cycle (protozoa), so they using it only in under unfavorable conditions.

Large organisms can reproduce sexually, but sometimes tend to parthenogenesis under good life conditions: for example sharks are living in very stable conditions, so they don't evolve fast, they don't require mutations, so they're cancer resistant and hammerhead shark can reproduce asexually. Good social conditions leads to unisex life style. An endometriosis and/or male associated infertility can be understood as an attempt for evolutionary adaptation of human organism to wealthy life conditions, where the sexual reproduction leads to unnecessary high mutagenity and cancer risk.
Caliban
1 / 5 (1) Jan 21, 2010
Although it would be very difficult to prove, one would expect that likewise, sexual reproduction would also increase the number of(at least potentially)beneficial mutations. also, cloning isn't nearly as much fun.
flaredone
not rated yet Jan 21, 2010
Sex must be entertaining, because it's quite laborious and organisms are energy effective by their very nature.