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Males as somatic investment in a parthenogenetic nematode.

Manon Grosmaire, Caroline Launay, Marion Siegwald, Thibault Brugiere, Lilia Estrada-Virrueta, Duncan Berger, Claire Burny, Laurent Modolo, Mark Blaxter, Peter Meister, Marie-Anne Felix, Pierre-Henri Gouyon, and Marie Delattre (2019)

Science, 363(6432):1210-1213.

We report the reproductive strategy of the nematode Mesorhabditis belari This species produces only 9% males, whose sperm is necessary to fertilize and activate the eggs. However, most of the fertilized eggs develop without using the sperm DNA and produce female individuals. Only in 9% of eggs is the male DNA utilized, producing sons. We found that mixing of parental genomes only gives rise to males because the Y-bearing sperm of males are much more competent than the X-bearing sperm for penetrating the eggs. In this previously unrecognized strategy, asexual females produce few sexual males whose genes never reenter thefemale pool. Here, production of males is of interest only if sons are more likely to mate with their sisters. Using game theory, we show that in this context, the production of 9% males by M. belari females is an evolutionary stable strategy.

 
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