While the hermaphrodite life has worked well for two common species of roundworm so far, their self-sufficient sex lives could set them up for extinction, say researchers.
“Our study confirms that when females shift from mating with males to fertilizing their own eggs, the number of genes utilized by that species shrinks,” says study leader Eric Haag, an evolutionary biologist and associate professor of biology at the University of Maryland.
“We also found that the genes activated only in males or females seem to be especially likely to be lost in the self-fertilizing species. Overall, our study forges a fascinating link between how a species reproduces and the size and content of its genome.”
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