Prof. Dr. Jacintha Ellers (VU Amsterdam)
in: 'Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution': "Genome evolution in asexuals: A tale of loss and expansion"
by Prof. Dr. Jacintha Ellers (VU Amsterdam)
Major evolutionary changes such as life-style transitions or speciation events, are often associated with accelerated genome dynamics leading to acquisition, rearrangement, and deletion of genetic material. The transition from sexual to asexual reproduction is commonly believed to have major genomic consequences. I will present genomic and experimental work comparing sexual and asexual populations in two species, the springtail Folsomia candida and the parasitic wasp Leptopilina clavipes. The talk will highlight similarities and differences in the way selection shaped loss of male and female reproductive traits. Asexuality in the studied species is related to Wolbachia infection, but the evolution of endosymbiont genome size is opposite in both species. I discuss possible hypothesis for host-genome coevolution. In conclusion, both loss and expansion contribute significantly to genome dynamics under asexuality.