Automictic reproduction in interspecific hybrids of poeciliid fish

Curr Biol. 2007 Nov 20;17(22):1948-53. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2007.09.064. Epub 2007 Nov 1.


Automixis, the process whereby the fusion of meiotic products restores the diploid state of the egg, is a common mode of reproduction in plants but has also been described in invertebrate animals. In vertebrates, however, automixis has so far only been discussed as one of several explanations for isolated cases of facultative parthenogenesis. Analyzing oocyte formation in F1 hybrids derived from Poecilia mexicana limantouri and P. latipinna crosses (the cross that led to the formation of the gynogenetic Poecilia formosa), we found molecular evidence for automictic oocyte production. The mechanism involves the random fusion of meiotic products after the second meiotic division. The fertilization of diploid oocytes gives rise to fully viable triploid offspring. Although the automictic production of diploid oocytes as seen in these F1 hybrids clearly represents a preadaptation to parthenogenetic reproduction, it is also a powerful intrinsic postzygotic isolation mechanism because the resulting next generation triploids were always sterile. The mechanism described here can explain facultative parthenogenesis, as well as varying ploidy levels reported in different animal groups. Most importantly, at least some of the reported cases of triploidy in humans can now be traced back to automixis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Crosses, Genetic
  • Female
  • Hybridization, Genetic*
  • Male
  • Ovum
  • Parthenogenesis / genetics*
  • Poecilia / genetics*
  • Poecilia / physiology
  • Polyploidy*