Odd genetics of a tri-sexual worm
In a recent paper published in Current Biology, Dr Andre Pires da Silva and colleagues describe a species of nematode that has three sexes - male, female and hermaphrodite. Auanema rhodensis, the worm featured in the study, uses an unusual reproductive strategy with only one sex chromosome (X). Hermaphrodites and female worms have two X chromosomes; males have just one X chromosome. Researchers found that some hermaphroditic worms will produce sperm with two X chromosomes and eggs with no chromosomes. When the hermaphroditic worms and male worms mate, only more male worms are produced. One possible explanation is that male worms may be important for the species' genetic diversity, providing A. rhodensis with the ability to adapt to changing conditions more efficiently than other species.
- Read paper: Sex- and Gamete-Specific Patterns of X Chromosome Segregation in a Trioecious Nematode Current Biology, Vol 28, Issue 1 p93-99e
- Interview in Newsweek