Sexual reproduction

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This article is about sexual reproduction. For non-sexual reproduction, see Asexual reproduction.

Sexual reproduction is a process that creates a new organism by combining the genetic material of two organisms. It occurs in eukaryotes.[1][2] Prokaryotes display processes similar to sex (mechanisms for lateral gene transfer such as conjugation, transformation and transduction), but they do not lead to reproduction. Prokaryotes reproduce through asexual reproduction. In multicellular eukaryote organisms, an individual is created anew; in prokaryotes, the initial cell has additional or transformed genetic material. In a process called genetic recombination, genetic material (DNA) originating from two different individuals join up so that homologous sequences are aligned with each other, and this is followed by exchange of genetic information. After the new recombinant chromosome is formed, it is passed on to progeny.

Sexual reproduction is the primary method of reproduction for the vast majority of macroscopic organisms, including almost all animals and plants. The evolution of sexual reproduction is a major puzzle. The first fossilized evidence of sexual reproduction in eukaryotes is from the Stenian period, about 1 to 1.2 billion years ago.[3] There are two main processes during sexual reproduction in eukaryotes: meiosis, involving the halving of the number of chromosomes; and fertilization, involving the fusion of two gametes and the restoration of the original number of chromosomes. During meiosis, the chromosomes of each pair usually exchange genetic information to achieve homologous recombination. Evolutionary thought proposes several explanations for why sexual reproduction developed and why it is maintained. These reasons include fighting the accumulation of deleterious mutations, increasing rate of adaptation to changing environments[4] (see the red queen hypothesis), dealing with competition (see the tangled bank hypothesis) or as an adaptation for repairing DNA damage and masking deleterious mutations.[5][6][7] While these ideas about why sexual reproduction has been maintained are generally supported, the ultimate size of the population determines if sexual reproduction is entirely beneficial. Larger populations appear to respond more quickly to benefits obtained through sexual reproduction than smaller population sizes. [8]maintenance of sexual reproduction has been explained by theories that work at several levels of selection, though some of these models remain controversial. New models presented in recent years, however, suggest a basic advantage for sexual reproduction in slowly reproducing, complex organisms, exhibiting characteristics that depend on the specific environment that the given species inhabit, and the particular survival strategies that they employ.[9]

In the first stage of sexual reproduction, "meiosis", the number of chromosomes is reduced from a diploid number (2n) to a haploid number (n). During "fertilization", haploid gametes come together to form a diploid zygote and the original number of chromosomes is restored.

Bacteria and archaea[edit]

Three distinct processes in prokaryotes are regarded as similar to eukaryotic sex: 1) bacterial transformation involves the incorporation of foreign DNA into the bacterial chromosome, 2) bacterial conjugation is a transfer of plasmid DNA between bacteria, but the plasmids are rarely incorporated into the bacterial chromosome, 3) Gene transfer and genetic exchange in archaea.

Bacterial transformation involves the recombination of genetic material and its function is mainly associated with DNA repair. Bacterial transformation is a complex process encoded by numerous bacterial genes, and is a bacterial adaptation for DNA transfer.[5][6] This process occurs naturally in at least 40 bacterial species.[10] For a bacterium to bind, take up, and recombine exogenous DNA into its chromosome, it must enter a special physiological state referred to as competence (see Natural competence). Sexual reproduction in early single-celled eukaryotes may have evolved from bacterial transformation,[7] or from a similar process in archaea (see below).

On the other hand, bacterial conjugation is a type of direct transfer of DNA between two bacteria through an external appendage called the conjugation pilus.[11] Bacterial conjugation is controlled by plasmid genes that are adapted for spreading copies of the plasmid between bacteria. The infrequent integration of a plasmid into a host bacterial chromosome, and the subsequent transfer of a part of the host chromosome to another cell do not appear to be bacterial adaptations.[5][12]

Exposure of hyperthermophilic archaeal Sulfolobus species to DNA damaging conditions induces cellular aggregation accompanied by high frequency genetic marker exchange.[13][14] Ajon et al.[14] hypothesized that this cellular aggregation enhances species-specific DNA repair by homologous recombination. DNA transfer in Sulfolobus may be an early form of sexual interaction similar to the more well-studied bacterial transformation systems that also involve species-specific DNA transfer leading to homologous recombinational repair of DNA damage.

Plants[edit]

Main article: Plant reproduction

Animals typically produce gametes directly by meiosis. Male gametes are called sperm, and female gametes are called eggs or ova. In animals, fertilization follows immediately after meiosis. Plants on the other hand have mitosis occurring in spores, which are produced by meiosis. The spores germinate into the gametophyte phase. The gametophytes of different groups of plants vary in size; angiosperms have as few as three cells in pollen, and mosses and other so called primitive plants may have several million cells. Plants have an alternation of generations where the sporophyte phase is succeeded by the gametophyte phase. The sporophyte phase produces spores within the sporangium by meiosis.

Flowering plants[edit]

Flowers are the sexual organs of flowering plants.

Flowering plants are the dominant plant form on land and they reproduce by sexual and asexual means. Often their most distinguishing feature is their reproductive organs, commonly called flowers. The anther produces pollen grains which contain the male gametophytes (sperm). For pollination to occur, pollen grains must attach to the stigma of the female reproductive structure (carpel), where the female gametophytes (ovules) are located inside the ovary. After the pollen tube grows through the carpel's style, the sex cell nuclei from the pollen grain migrate into the ovule to fertilize the egg cell and endosperm nuclei within the female gametophyte in a process termed double fertilization. The resulting zygote develops into an embryo, while the triploid endosperm (one sperm cell plus two female cells) and female tissues of the ovule give rise to the surrounding tissues in the developing seed. The ovary, which produced the female gametophyte(s), then grows into a fruit, which surrounds the seed(s). Plants may either self-pollinate or cross-pollinate. Nonflowering plants like ferns, moss and liverworts use other means of sexual reproduction.

In 2013, flowers dating from the Cretaceous (100 million years before present) were found encased in amber, the oldest evidence of sexual reproduction in a flowering plant. Microscopic images showed tubes growing out of pollen and penetrating the flower's stigma. The pollen was sticky, suggesting it was carried by insects.[15]

Ferns[edit]

Ferns mostly produce large diploid sporophytes with rhizomes, roots and leaves; and on fertile leaves called sporangium, spores are produced. The spores are released and germinate to produce short, thin gametophytes that are typically heart shaped, small and green in color. The gametophytes or thallus, produce both motile sperm in the antheridia and egg cells in separate archegonia. After rains or when dew deposits a film of water, the motile sperm are splashed away from the antheridia, which are normally produced on the top side of the thallus, and swim in the film of water to the archegonia where they fertilize the egg. To promote out crossing or cross fertilization the sperm are released before the eggs are receptive of the sperm, making it more likely that the sperm will fertilize the eggs of different thallus. A zygote is formed after fertilization, which grows into a new sporophytic plant. The condition of having separate sporephyte and gametophyte plants is called alternation of generations. Other plants with similar reproductive means include the Psilotum, Lycopodium, Selaginella and Equisetum.

Bryophytes[edit]

The bryophytes, which include liverworts, hornworts and mosses, reproduce both sexually and vegetatively. They are small plants found growing in moist locations and like ferns, have motile sperm with flagella and need water to facilitate sexual reproduction. These plants start as a haploid spore that grows into the dominate form, which is a multicellular haploid body with leaf-like structures that photosynthesize. Haploid gametes are produced in antherida and archegonia by mitosis. The sperm released from the antherida respond to chemicals released by ripe archegonia and swim to them in a film of water and fertilize the egg cells thus producing a zygote. The zygote divides by mitotic division and grows into a sporophyte that is diploid. The multicellular diploid sporophyte produces structures called spore capsules, which are connected by seta to the archegonia. The spore capsules produce spores by meiosis, when ripe the capsules burst open and the spores are released. Bryophytes show considerable variation in their breeding structures and the above is a basic outline. Also in some species each plant is one sex while other species produce both sexes on the same plant.[16]

Fungi[edit]

Main article: Mating in fungi
Further information: Fungus § Reproduction

Fungi are classified by the methods of sexual reproduction they employ. The outcome of sexual reproduction most often is the production of resting spores that are used to survive inclement times and to spread. There are typically three phases in the sexual reproduction of fungi: plasmogamy, karyogamy and meiosis.

Animals[edit]

Insects[edit]

Australian Emperor laying egg, guarded by the male

Insect species make up more than two-thirds of all extant animal species, and most insect species use sex for reproduction, though some species are facultatively parthenogenetic. Many species have sexual dimorphism, while in others the sexes look nearly identical. Typically they have two sexes with males producing spermatozoa and females ova. The ova develop into eggs that have a covering called the chorion, which forms before internal fertilization. Insects have very diverse mating and reproductive strategies most often resulting in the male depositing spermatophore within the female, which stores the sperm until she is ready for egg fertilization. After fertilization, and the formation of a zygote, and varying degrees of development; the eggs are deposited outside the female in many species, or in some, they develop further within the female and live born offspring are produced.

Birds[edit]

Further information: Avian reproduction

Mammals[edit]

There are three extant kinds of mammals: Monotremes, Placentals and Marsupials, all with internal fertilization. In placental mammals, offspring are born as juveniles: complete animals with the sex organs present although not reproductively functional. After several months or years, the sex organs develop further to maturity and the animal becomes sexually mature. Most female mammals are only fertile during certain periods during their estrous cycle, at which point they are ready to mate. Individual male and female mammals meet and carry out copulation.[citation needed] For most mammals, males and females exchange sexual partners throughout their adult lives.[17][18][19]

Fish[edit]

Further information: Fish reproductive anatomy

The vast majority of fish species lay eggs that are then fertilized by the male,[20] some species lay their eggs on a substrate like a rock or on plants, while others scatter their eggs and the eggs are fertilized as they drift or sink in the water column. Some fish species use internal fertilization and then disperse the developing eggs or give birth to live offspring. Fish that have live-bearing offspring include the Guppy and Mollies or Poecilia. Fishes that give birth to live young can be ovoviviparous, where the eggs are fertilized within the female and the eggs simply hatch within the female body, or in seahorses, the male carries the developing young within a pouch, and gives birth to live young.[21] Fishes can also be viviparous, where the female supplies nourishment to the internally growing offspring. Some fish are hermaphrodites, where a single fish is both male and female and can produce eggs and sperm. In hermaphroditic fish, some are male and female at the same time while in other fish they are serially hermaphroditic; starting as one sex and changing to the other. In at least one hermaphroditic species, self-fertilization occurs when the eggs and sperm are released together. Internal self-fertilization may occur in some other species.[22] One fish species does not reproduce by sexual reproduction but uses sex to produce offspring; Poecilia formosa is a unisex species that uses a form of parthenogenesis called gynogenesis, where unfertilized eggs develop into embryos that produce female offspring. Poecilia formosa mate with males of other fish species that use internal fertilization, the sperm does not fertilize the eggs but stimulates the growth of the eggs which develops into embryos.[23]

Reptiles[edit]

Further information: Reptiles § Reproduction

Mollusks[edit]

Further information: Mollusk § Reproduction

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Lodé, Thierry (2011). "Sex is not a solution for reproduction: the libertine bubble theory". BioEssays 33 (6): 419–422. doi:10.1002/bies.201000125. PMID 21472739. 
  2. ^ Lodé, Thierry (2012). "Sex and the origin of genetic exchanges". Trends in Evolutionary Biology 4. doi:10.4081/eb.2012.e1. 
  3. ^ N.J. Buttefield (2000). "Bangiomorpha pubescens n. gen., n. sp.: implications for the evolution of sex, multicellularity, and the Mesoproterozoic/Neoproterozoic radiation of eukaryotes". Paleobiology 26 (3): 386–404. doi:10.1666/0094-8373(2000)026<0386:BPNGNS>2.0.CO;2. 
  4. ^ Gray, J. C.; Goddard, M. R. (2012). Bonsall, Michael, ed. "Gene-flow between niches facilitates local adaptation in sexual populations". Ecology Letters 15 (9): n/a. doi:10.1111/j.1461-0248.2012.01814.x. 
  5. ^ a b c Michod RE, Bernstein H, Nedelcu AM; Bernstein; Nedelcu (May 2008). "Adaptive value of sex in microbial pathogens" (PDF). Infect. Genet. Evol. 8 (3): 267–85. doi:10.1016/j.meegid.2008.01.002. PMID 18295550. 
  6. ^ a b Bernstein, Harris; Bernstein, Carol (2010). "Evolutionary Origin of Recombination during Meiosis". BioScience 60 (7): 498. doi:10.1525/bio.2010.60.7.5. 
  7. ^ a b Bernstein H, Bernstein C, Michod RE. (2012) "DNA Repair as the Primary Adaptive Function of Sex in Bacteria and Eukaryotes". Chapter 1, pp. 1–50, in DNA Repair: New Research, Editors S. Kimura and Shimizu S. Nova Sci. Publ., Hauppauge, New York. Open access for reading only. ISBN 978-1-62100-756-2
  8. ^ Colegrave, N (2002). "Sex releases the speed limit on evolution". Nature 420 (6916): 664–6. Bibcode:2002Natur.420..664C. doi:10.1038/nature01191. PMID 12478292. 
  9. ^ Kleiman, Maya; Tannenbaum, Emmanuel (2009). "Diploidy and the selective advantage for sexual reproduction in unicellular organisms". Theory in Biosciences 128 (4): 249–85. doi:10.1007/s12064-009-0077-9. PMID 19902285. 
  10. ^ Lorenz, MG; Wackernagel, W (1994). "Bacterial gene transfer by natural genetic transformation in the environment". Microbiological reviews 58 (3): 563–602. PMC 372978. PMID 7968924. 
  11. ^ Lodé, T (2012). "Have Sex or Not? Lessons from Bacteria". Sexual development : genetics, molecular biology, evolution, endocrinology, embryology, and pathology of sex determination and differentiation 6 (6): 325–8. doi:10.1159/000342879. PMID 22986519. 
  12. ^ Krebs, JE; Goldstein, ES; Kilpatrick, ST (2011). Lewin's GENES X. Boston: Jones and Bartlett Publishers. pp. 289–292. ISBN 9780763766320. 
  13. ^ Fröls S, Ajon M, Wagner M, Teichmann D, Zolghadr B, Folea M, Boekema EJ, Driessen AJ, Schleper C, Albers SV. (2008). UV-inducible cellular aggregation of the hyperthermophilic archaeon Sulfolobus solfataricus is mediated by pili formation. Mol Microbiol 70(4):938-952. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2008.06459.x. PMID 18990182
  14. ^ a b Ajon M, Fröls S, van Wolferen M, Stoecker K, Teichmann D, Driessen AJ, Grogan DW, Albers SV, Schleper C; Fröls; Van Wolferen; Stoecker; Teichmann; Driessen; Grogan; Albers; Schleper (November 2011). "UV-inducible DNA exchange in hyperthermophilic archaea mediated by type IV pili". Mol. Microbiol. 82 (4): 807–17. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2958.2011.07861.x. PMID 21999488. 
  15. ^ Poinar Jr., George O; Chambers, Kenton L; Wunderlich, Joerg (10 December 2013). "Micropetasos, a new genus of angiosperms from mid-Cretaceous Burmese amber" (PDF). J. Bot. Res. Inst. Texas 7 (2): 745–750. Lay summary (3 January 2014). 
  16. ^ Jon Lovett Doust; Lesley Lovett Doust (1988). Plant Reproductive Ecology: Patterns and Strategies. Oxford University Press. p. 290. ISBN 9780195063943. 
  17. ^ Reichard, U.H. (2002). "Monogamy—A variable relationship" (PDF). Max Planck Research 3: 62–7. Retrieved 24 April 2013. 
  18. ^ Lipton, Judith Eve; Barash, David P. (2001). The Myth of Monogamy: Fidelity and Infidelity in Animals and People. San Francisco: W.H. Freeman and Company. ISBN 0-7167-4004-4. 
  19. ^ Research conducted by Patricia Adair Gowaty. Reported by Morell, V. (1998). "Evolution of sex: A new look at monogamy". Science 281 (5385): 1982–1983. doi:10.1126/science.281.5385.1982. PMID 9767050. 
  20. ^ BONY FISHES - Reproduction
  21. ^ M. Cavendish (2001). Endangered Wildlife and Plants of the World. Marshall Cavendish. p. 1252. ISBN 978-0-7614-7194-3. Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  22. ^ Orlando EF, Katsu Y, Miyagawa S, Iguchi T; Katsu; Miyagawa; Iguchi (2006). "Cloning and differential expression of estrogen receptor and aromatase genes in the self-fertilizing hermaphrodite and male mangrove rivulus, Kryptolebias marmoratus". Journal of Molecular Endocrinology 37 (2): 353–365. doi:10.1677/jme.1.02101. PMID 17032750. 
  23. ^ I. Schlupp, J. Parzefall, J. T. Epplen, M. Schartl; Parzefall; Epplen; Schartl (2006). "Limia vittata as host species for the Amazon molly: no evidence for sexual reproduction". Journal of Fish Biology 48 (4): 792–795. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8649.1996.tb01472.x. 

References[edit]

External links[edit]