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, 49 (3), 418-426

LOWER MITE INFESTATIONS IN AN ASEXUAL GECKO COMPARED WITH ITS SEXUAL ANCESTORS

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LOWER MITE INFESTATIONS IN AN ASEXUAL GECKO COMPARED WITH ITS SEXUAL ANCESTORS

Kathryn A Hanley et al. Evolution.

Abstract

What advantage do sexually reproducing organisms gain from their mode of reproduction that compensates for their twofold loss in reproductive rate relative to their asexual counterparts? One version of the Red Queen hypothesis suggests that selective pressure from parasites is strongest on the most common genotype in a population, and thus genetically identical clonal lineages are more vulnerable to parasitism over time than genetically diverse sexual lineages. Our surveys of the ectoparasites of an asexual gecko and its two sexual ancestral species show that the sexuals have a higher prevalence, abundance, and mean intensity of mites than asexuals sharing the same habitat. Our experimental data indicate that in one sexual/asexual pair this pattern is at least partly attributable to higher attachment rates of mites to sexuals. Such a difference may occur as a result of exceptionally high susceptibility of the sexuals to mites because of their low genetic diversity (relative to other more-outbred sexual species) and their potentially high stress levels, or as a result of exceptionally low susceptibility of the asexuals to mites because of their high levels of heterozygosity.

Keywords: Lepidodactylus; Red Queen hypothesis; parasites; parthenogens; sex.

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