Appearance of males in a thelytokous strain of Milnesium cf. tardigradum (Tardigrada)

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Abstract

Tardigrades are generally gonochoristic. Many moss-dwelling species propagate by parthenogenesis, but heterogony has not yet been found. Milnesium tardigradum, a carnivorous tardigrade, also has both sexes, but males are usually rare and many populations appear to have only parthenogenetic reproduction. Since 2000, I have maintained a thelytokous strain of Milnesium cf. tardigradum that originated from one female. Individuals of this strain were thought to be all females, but here I report that males have emerged in this strain at a very low frequency. This is the first report of the appearance of males in parthenogenetic tardigrades. On the first pair of legs of some individuals, I observed the modified claws characteristic of males of this species. It is unknown whether these males can actually function in sexual reproduction; however, they might allow some possibility of genetic exchange among clonal populations. No environmental factors that generate males were determined.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)849-853
Number of pages5
JournalZoological Science
Volume25
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Aug 1

Keywords

  • Parthenogenesis
  • Sex ratio
  • Sexual dimorphism
  • Tardigrada
  • Thelytoky

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology

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