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Index > News Blog > News > ScienceDaily: What Wasps Can Tell Us About Sex

ScienceDaily: What Wasps Can Tell Us About Sex

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Researchers at ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich have discovered that a single gene in a particular aphid wasp decides whether the insects reproduce sexually or asexually. This is not only of interest for pest control, but could also help answer a central question of evolutionary biology.

Why does sex exist? Evolutionary biologists have yet to find a satisfactory answer to this simple question. Asexual reproduction would be more "economical" because, with separate sexes reproducing sexually, only some organisms will produce offspring. Yet, in the course of evolution, sexual reproduction has become the predominant mode. Various theories have sought to explain why this is so, but they all have to contend with the problem that they are difficult to test empirically. It is true that certain animal species reproduce both sexually and asexually; however, in these species, individuals of sexual origin generally also differ in other respects from those of asexual origin, so that only limited conclusions can be drawn from direct comparisons.

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