UNIVERSITY OF PARMA
19 November 2010
Ore 12 – Aula 2 Plesso Biologico
Division of Biology – Ecology and Evolution Section
Imperial College London
Can asexual organisms speciate? Theoretical framework and empirical evidence
The evolution of distinct species in animals has often been considered a property solely of sexually reproducing organisms. Nevertheless, a notorious group of asexual (=parthenogenetic) animals, the bdelloid rotifers, has diversified into distinct species, with patterns equivalent to those found in sexual groups. With new statistical methods for the combined analysis of morphology and DNA sequence data, independent evolution of species in bdelloids has been confirmed. Moreover, the most important process driving such divergence, namely ecological divergence by natural selection, is present. Thus, sex is not the sole and necessary condition for speciation.