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To learn more, they went out into the field and captured multiple samples of four species of stick insects that are already known to reproduce via parthenogenesis. The research team sequenced the genes of eight populations from four stick inspect species that rely on parthenogenesis. In six of those populations, they found low genetic diversity, which points towards long periods of uninterrupted parthenogenesis.
However, in two of the populations belonging to the species Timema douglasi and T. monikensis, Susana Freitas and her team found evidence of more genetic diversity than should be the case for a creature that reproduces without mating. This suggests that these two species occasionally practice cryptic sex, where fertilization occurs post-mating and tends to have a male bias.
The research team concludes by suggesting their findings indicate that some creatures, such as stick insects, appear to be capable of adapting to environmental changes by adapting the means by which they reproduce.
Susana Freitas et al, Evidence for cryptic sex in parthenogenetic stick insects of the genus Timema, Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences (2023). DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2023.0404
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Some stick insects that normally reproduce through parthenogenesis found to mate on occasion (2023, September 20)
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