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Evolutionary and functional insights into reproductive strategies of aphids

Abstract : Aphids are among the few organisms capable of reproducing either sexually or asexually. This plasticity in reproductive mode is viewed as an adaptive response to cope with seasonal changes. Clonal reproduction occurs during the growing season allowing rapid population increase, while sexual reproduction occurs during late summer and leads to frost-resistant eggs that can survive winter conditions. This shift between these two extreme reproductive modes is achieved by using the same genotype, i.e. within the same genetic clone, and is triggered by photoperiodic changes perceived by the aphid brain or visual system. Advances have been made recently to depict genetic programs that relate to the regulation of reproductive modes in aphids. These studies have benefited from the rapid development of genomic and post-genomic resources obtained through the International Aphid Genomics Consortium. Here, we underline the importance of several candidate genes in the switch from clonal to sexual reproduction in aphids and whose roles await full validation. Besides reproductive mode variation expressed at the genotypic level, aphid species also frequently encompass lineages which have lost the sexual phase and hence the alternating clonal and sexual reproductive phases of the life cycle. This coexistence of sex and asexual reproduction within the same species raises questions on its evolutionary and ecological significance. We summarize the knowledge accumulated to date on the maintenance of sex as well as on the origin and evolution of asexuality in aphids. By combining functional genomics, genetic and ecological approaches on reproductive plasticity and polymorphism, we hope to obtain an integrative view of the evolutionary forces shaping aphid reproductive strategies, from gene to population and species levels.
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Jean-Christophe Simon, Solenn Stoeckel, Denis Tagu. Evolutionary and functional insights into reproductive strategies of aphids. Comptes Rendus Biologies, 2010, 333 (6-7), pp.488-496. ⟨10.1016/j.crvi.2010.03.003⟩. ⟨hal-02661743⟩



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