The spread of a transposon insertion in Rec8 is associated with obligate asexuality in Daphnia

Brian D. Eads, Dai Tsuchiya, Justen Andrews, Michael Lynch, Miriam E. Zolan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Although transitions from sexual to asexual reproduction are thought to have important evolutionary consequences, little is known about the mechanistic underpinnings of these changes. The cyclical parthenogen Daphnia pulex is a powerful model in which to address these issues because female-limited meiosis suppression can be transmitted to sexual individuals via males, providing the opportunity for genetic dissection of the trait. A previous study identified genomic regions differentiating obligately asexual females from their sexual counterparts, and a candidate gene within one such region, encoding the meiotic cohesin Rec8, is the subject of this investigation. The D. pulex genome contains three Rec8 loci, all of which are quite polymorphic. However, at one of the loci, all obligately asexual clones carry an allele containing an identical upstream insertion of a transposable element as well as a frameshift mutation, both of which are completely absent from sexual lineages. The low level of variation within the insertion allele across all asexual lineages suggests that this element may be in the process of spreading through the species, and abrogation or modification of Rec8 function is possibly responsible for converting meiotically reproducing lineages into obligate asexuals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)858-863
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 17 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Cytogenetics
  • Parthenogenesis
  • Phylogenetics
  • Recombination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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