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Trends Ecol Evol. 2005 Sep;20(9):495-502. Epub 2005 Jun 29.

Hybridization, glaciation and geographical parthenogenesis.

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Centre for Environmental Stress and Adaptation Research, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC 3010, Australia.


Parthenogenetic organisms are all female and reproduce clonally. The transition from sex to parthenogenesis is frequently associated with a major change in geographical distribution, often biasing parthenogenetic lineages towards environments that were severely affected by the glacial cycles of the Late Pleistocene. It is difficult to interpret these patterns as arising simply as a result of selection for the demographic effects of parthenogenesis because many parthenogenetic organisms are also hybrids. Here, I argue that many cases of geographical parthenogenesis might be best seen as part of a broader pattern of hybrid advantage in new and open environments. Parthenogenesis in these cases could have a more secondary role of stabilizing strongly selected hybrid genotypes. In this context, geographical parthenogenesis might tell us more about the role of hybridization in evolution than about the role of sex.


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