Genes & Genetic Systems
Online ISSN : 1880-5779
Print ISSN : 1341-7568
ISSN-L : 1341-7568
‘Sex and crime’ in evolution – why sexuality was so successful
Ingo Schubert
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2011 Volume 86 Issue 1 Pages 1-6


Components of sexuality have fore-runners already in prokaryotes, for instance conjugation, recombination- repair and the molecular constituents needed for nuclear division. For eukaryotes, the basic and predominant mode of propagation is via sexuality, although it is highly complex and costly. Many interactions between individual cells are detrimental for one partner and might be considered as a ‘criminal’ act performed by the active partner. For instance, the irreversible and non-reciprocal processes of phagocytosis or endocellular parasitism but also the irreversible, asymmetric and sustainable endosymbiosis with a benefit bias in favour of the active partner represent such events. Contrary to this, sexuality in general represents an indirectly reversible, reciprocal, sustainable (by reiteration) and mutually beneficial interaction between equal-ranking cells. After fertilization, a doubled set of genetic information protects against loss of essential genes, while the haplophase allows ridding lethal mutations. Resorting of parental chromosome sets, recombination between homologous chromosomes during meiosis, and new combination of alleles during fertilization, mediate a high genetic variability at a minimum risk of deleterious variants, thus promoting evolutionary adaptability.

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© 2011 by The Genetics Society of Japan
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