Evolution of syngamy

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  • Sex is normally thought to function as a mechanism that injects heritable genetic variation into populations. But genetic mixing does not occur with self-fertilizers, and self-fertilizers have probably persisted since early eukaryotic evolution. I discuss the purpose of sex without genetic mixing and proffer that sex is a conservative mechanism that decreases heritable genetic variation. Syngamy (nuclear/pronuclear fusion/association + "mixing" of chromosomes) is a lesser-understood and lesser-studied aspect of sex. I propose that syngamy is a type of cell division that evolved from meiosis. In most metazoans, diploidy is restored via a cell division rather than through fusion event. I propose that meiosis and syngamy are pleiotropically controlled, and that they hypothetically share at least two homologous features that neither share with mitosis: (1) the requirement for membrane fusion/association, and (2) some products of the division are ontogenetically discarded.

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  • Copyright ¬© 2010 the author(s). Theses may be used for non-commercial research, educational, or related academic purposes only. Such uses include personal study, research, scholarship, and teaching. Theses may only be shared by linking to Carleton University Institutional Repository and no part may be used without proper attribution to the author. No part may be used for commercial purposes directly or indirectly via a for-profit platform; no adaptation or derivative works are permitted without consent from the copyright owner.
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  • 2010


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