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Biology, Research

Clonal polymorphism and high heterozygosity in the celibate genome of the Amazon molly

Published on : February 19, 2018

The extreme rarity of asexual vertebrates in nature is generally explained by genomic decay due to absence of meiotic recombination, thus leading to extinction of such lineages.

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Researchers explore features of a vertebrate asexual genome, the Amazon molly, Poecilia formosa, and find few signs of genetic degeneration but unique genetic variability and ongoing evolution. They uncovered a substantial clonal polymorphism and, as a conserved feature from its interspecific hybrid origin, a 10-fold higher heterozygosity than in the sexual parental species. These characteristics seem to be a principal reason for the unpredicted fitness of this asexual vertebrate. Their data suggest that asexual vertebrate lineages are scarce not because they are at a disadvantage, but because the genomic combinations required to bypass meiosis and to make up a functioning hybrid genome are rarely met in nature.


Jean Nicolas Volff (IGFL)
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Domitille Chalopin
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