Evolution in asexuals
The possibility for independently evolving entities akin to species to form and persist in the absence of sexual recombination in eukaryotes has often been questioned. Nevertheless, there are organisms that are known to be asexual and that have apparently diversified into multiple species as recognized by taxonomists. These organisms have therefore been identified as an evolutionary paradox: the exist, persist, and diversify in the apparent absence of sexual recombination. We work on three complementary approaches attempting to solve the paradox, focusing on bdelloid rotifers, the most diverse and widespread group of organisms in which all species are considered asexual: (1) we look for some hidden form of sex (e.g. unconventional meiosis, horizontal gene transfer, etc.); (2) we check whether species indeed represent biological entities; and (3) we empirically test for the theoretically expected genetic and genomic predictions of the absence of sex. Overall, we speculate on the role of sex as a necessary requirement for speciation.
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