Monday, April 16, 2007

If You're Reproducing Asexually, Don't Fear: Tiny Mites Prove You Can Get Your Libido Back


German evolutionary biologist Katja Domes has identified a family of mite—it's a tiny type of arachnid—called Crotoniidae that reproduces sexually even though it evolved directly from a related family, Camisiidae, that reproduces without sex:
When it comes to why the Crotoniidae regained sexuality, Domes noted these mites often colonize trees. Tree-dwelling oribatids are nearly all sexual, while soil-dwelling oribatids such as Camisiidae are predominantly parthenogenetic.

. . . .

"The most important implication is that contrary to general opinion, sexual reproduction can be regained long after it is lost," evolutionary geneticist Bill Birky at the University of Arizona told LiveScience.

"This implies that the genes required for producing males can be retained, even when those genes are rarely if ever used to produce males," he said. "This could be because male production is important even though it is rare, or it could be because those genes have important functions other than male production."
Link. Those aren't mites in the picture, but if Pharyngula is good for something it's pictures of spiders getting it on. And lectures about how religion is wrong. More of the latter recently.

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