University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Genetics Seminar  > The evolutionary dynamics of unusual reproductive systems.

The evolutionary dynamics of unusual reproductive systems.

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Hosts: Eli Vieira Araujo Jnr and John Welch

During sexual reproduction, two unrelated individuals cooperate to achieve a common goal: pass on their genes to the next generation. This cooperation is however not without conflict, parents can fight over who raises the kids, females can cheat and mate with other males. But at least in most animals genes of the mother and father are equally represented in the offspring. This is not always the case. In my research I study a group of insects who’s reproduction is incredibly variable and where evolutionary innovations appear to have reduced the importance of males in reproduction. For example in the citrus mealybug, males are still needed to fertilize females, but the female can eliminate his genes from her son. In the cottony cushion scale, evolution appears to have driven the male to become a parasite living in the body of the female, producing sperm and fertilizing her from within. My research aims to study how conflict between the sexes, both directly and indirectly (conflict between mothers and fathers genes within an offspring) can have lead to the evolution of these strange reproductive behaviours and might help to explain the large diversity of reproductive systems among animals. Finally I will show how macro-evolutionary processes can further affect the taxonomic distribution of alternative reproductive systems.

This talk is part of the Genetics Seminar series.

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