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ClonalityThe Genetics, Ecology, and Evolution of Sexual Abstinence in Vertebrate Animals$
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John C. Avise

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195369670

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195369670.001.0001

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Reproduction by the Chaste: Parthenogenesis

Reproduction by the Chaste: Parthenogenesis

(p.35) CHAPTER THREE Reproduction by the Chaste: Parthenogenesis

John C. Avise

Oxford University Press

Virgins can indeed give birth, and not only in Greek mythology. In biology, the word partheno appended by genesis (meaning origin) describes the clonal process by which a female procreates without assistance from males. She does so by producing special eggs cells that require no sperm or fertilization before initiating the development of offspring who, in most cases, are genetically identical to their virgin mother. This phenomenon exists in nature as a constitutive reproductive mode in several unisexual (all-female) “species” of reptile, and sporadically in several additional groups. This chapter describes all known cases of parthenogenesis in vertebrate animals, and includes details about cellular and genetic mechanisms, evolutionary origins and durations, and potential ecological or adaptive significance.

Keywords:   virgins, virgin-birth, unisexual species, all-female species, evolutionary duration

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