In this nematode species males are needed for reproduction but not their genes — ScienceDaily

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In 1949, the young biologist Victor Nigon described the reproduction of various nematodes, which were small aphids that lived in the soil in their doctoral thesis. These include Mesorhabditis belari which requires rare male specimens for reproduction, even though the genetic material found in sperm is rarely used by eggs. The resulting embryo produces a female whose mother is a clone.

Seventy years later, this worm has aroused people's interest, this time from CNRS, l' ENS de Lyon, l' Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1 and the international team led by researchers at the National Museum of Natural History. . . They confirmed the preliminary observations of Victor Nigon, but also pointed out that 9% of embryos produced males when spermatozoa were used after fertilization. Men can then pass their genes to their son to make M. Belari A unique case in which males have no genetic contribution, but can be considered as a simple extension of females by helping them begin to develop eggs.

If men do not spread the mother's genes, then at least they must help the mother produce as many offspring as possible. This is only possible when a female-produced son helps her daughter produce a large number of embryos. In other words, if men prioritize their sisters to be fertilized.

But why does this lead to 9% of men, not for example 2% or 20%? Using "game theory," the researchers showed that producing 9% of males is a stable evolutionary strategy because this amount is sufficient to ensure that the largest number of female offspring are produced without wasting too much resources in the male production of the gene. . no future.

Asexualization is a type of reproduction in which a female-only species produces its own clones, rather than sexual behaviors, in which male individuals are genetically mixed with females. M. Belari represents a new case in which men can be useful for female reproduction but not genetically mixed. The research team will now explore how this type of reproduction occurs and will test the long-term stability of M. Belari Species through their genome research.

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