My new commentary piece has just been published in the latest issue of Molecular Ecology. It’s a summary of a paper by Ament-Velásquez et al. on the origin of asexual Lineus ribbon worms.
A prediction for detecting highly asexual organisms is that each gene copy in a diploid species should become extremely divergent from each other over time. This is because with no sexual gene exchange between parents, the two gene copies become essentially isolated from each other, and will hence mutate independently. However, this pattern also arises when a new species is form by hybridisation, due to mixing two distinct sets of genes from parental species. Ament-Velasquez et al. studied gene samples over several species of Lineus worms, and partitioned observed genetic divergence in an asexual species into that arising via hybridisation and asexual genetic isolation.
Click here to read the commentary piece, which gives a further overview of their research as well as reflections on how to dissect the many genetic outcomes of asexual reproduction.