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← Sex: it's a good thing, evolutionarily speaking

Sex: it's a good thing, evolutionarily speaking - Comments

Neodarwinian's Avatar Comment 1 by Neodarwinian

Sex is a good thing at this level of complexity. Seemingly, organisms that can opt our of the sex cost, especially animals, are headed toward extinction with committing to asexuality while less complex organisms, such as bdelloid rotifers do just fine asexually. Plants surprised me here as I thought cloning would be an efficient way of reproducing without losing vigor.

Thu, 31 May 2012 02:46:03 UTC | #944686

Vorlund's Avatar Comment 2 by Vorlund

An interesting study, how we get from asexaul to sexual reproduction? fortuitous mutation?

Thu, 31 May 2012 07:10:20 UTC | #944708

RichardofYork's Avatar Comment 3 by RichardofYork

I read a book about the evolution of sex some time ago and I'd recommend it to anyone interested in evolution "The Red Queen -sex and the evolution of human nature" by Matt Ridley , excellent read

Thu, 31 May 2012 09:11:57 UTC | #944726

peter mayhew's Avatar Comment 4 by peter mayhew

Anyone interested in major evolutionary transitions like the origin of sex should read The Origins of Life by John Maynard Smith and Eors Szathmary, Published by Oxford University Press: it's a nice easy short popular read. http://books.google.co.uk/books/about/The_Origins_of_Life.html?id=n0_fAGe13NQC

Thu, 31 May 2012 11:15:25 UTC | #944734

Red Dog's Avatar Comment 5 by Red Dog

This theory is nothing new though I assume. I've only read a few biology books (mostly by Dawkins) so please correct me if any of this is wrong:

but if you had asked me before I read this article why we have sexual reproduction I would have said something like this, greater adaptability, immunity from disease is one thing that can be measured but there are also all kinds of other benefits, essentially you cut way, way, down on the amount of random variation and hence opportunities for more adaptive behaviors if you don't have sexual reproduction. (I assume there still isn't zero variability since things can go wrong even when duplicating the same DNA but that its much less likely to happen with asexual copying?)

So my understanding is that the important thing this study does is confirm what we already thought about the benefits of sexual reproduction with some solid data?

Thu, 31 May 2012 14:07:44 UTC | #944750

Tyler Durden's Avatar Comment 6 by Tyler Durden

Comment 3 by RichardofYork :

I read a book about the evolution of sex some time ago and I'd recommend it to anyone interested in evolution "The Red Queen -sex and the evolution of human nature" by Matt Ridley , excellent read

Another excellet read (but slightly less intensive than The Red Queen) is Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation: The Definitive Guide to the Evolutionary Biology of Sex by Olivia Judson.

Thu, 31 May 2012 14:18:32 UTC | #944751

glenister_m's Avatar Comment 7 by glenister_m

I wonder if sex is also a function of multicellularity, in that it is not practical to clone yourself after you pass a certain body size or complexity.

In other words:

  • budding is impractical after a point because the metabolic needs of the offspring, before it can survive on its own, exceed the practical capacity of the parent

  • binary fission is too complicated/difficult for a complex multicellular adult organism, and too risky (loss of half the resources, increased possibility of faulty replication of organs, organ function disruption as it duplicates, etc.)

  • vegetative reproduction has problems with dispersal of offspring and therefore competing for resources

  • So sex may have had some value in sharing the metabolic needs of the offspring between two different individuals, and reducing the risks involved in duplicating an adult organism.

    I realize I'm probably stretching things, but I thought it was worth the discussion.

    Thu, 31 May 2012 16:36:12 UTC | #944770

    littletrotsky13's Avatar Comment 8 by littletrotsky13

    Comment 5 by Red Dog :

    No, it really isn't new. The reason I personnally find the most convincing is the allowance for greater variability and the resulting faster spread of advantageous mutations, as these can happen in separate organisms then recombine during sexual reproduction (one of the reasons, I suspect, that bacteria have parasexual gene transfer), rather than having to happen in the same direct line during asexual reproduction. Certainly as a starting ground for the development of sexuality.

    Thu, 31 May 2012 18:02:58 UTC | #944792

    ShinobiYaka's Avatar Comment 9 by ShinobiYaka

    Its also fun, particularly if there is more than one participant ;)

    Thu, 31 May 2012 19:22:02 UTC | #944816

    fergie's Avatar Comment 10 by fergie

    Somebody must have mentioned this already and I am too thick to have understood their point. Surely the advantage of sexual reproduction over say cloning, is that it creates a kaleidoscope effect to evolution. It also gives a raison d'ĂȘtre to we more sentient forms of life.

    Thu, 31 May 2012 21:03:05 UTC | #944844

    Sean_W's Avatar Comment 11 by Sean_W

    Comment 1 by Neodarwinian

    I think you're mostly still right about plants, aren't you? In terms of resistance to pests and disease a good plant's clones can duplicate those traits nearly perfectly. So I think you're right in that regard if that is what you meant by vigor. I guess your primary concern as a plant then would be changes to the environment and the lack of potential new combinations to find a way out of any trouble, at which point you green up with envy at those species that can have it both ways.

    Thu, 31 May 2012 22:56:20 UTC | #944866

    Sample's Avatar Comment 12 by Sample

    Is there a difference in identifying sex as being accidental rather than of a definitive means to an end? I think there might be but I apologize if this sounds more philosophical than scientific. Does this thought resonate with anyone?

    Mike

    Fri, 01 Jun 2012 06:33:23 UTC | #944907

    Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 13 by Schrodinger's Cat

    Comment 9 by ShinobiYaka

    Its also fun, particularly if there is more than one participant ;)

    Sex is a bit like getting one's Crackerjack pencil as a consolation prize from the universal game show.

    Sun, 03 Jun 2012 18:27:10 UTC | #945322

    Shamit's Avatar Comment 14 by Shamit

    Comment 3 by RichardofYork :

    I read a book about the evolution of sex some time ago and I'd recommend it to anyone interested in evolution "The Red Queen -sex and the evolution of human nature" by Matt Ridley , excellent read

    I second that a very interesting book on evolutionary biology

    Mon, 04 Jun 2012 02:09:11 UTC | #945383