Experimental & Applied Acarology

, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp 301–318

Evolution of pseudo-arrhenotoky

  • M. W. Sabelis
  • C. J. Nagelkerke

DOI: 10.1007/BF01196192

Cite this article as:
Sabelis, M.W. & Nagelkerke, C.J. Exp Appl Acarol (1988) 4: 301. doi:10.1007/BF01196192


In arrhenotokous arthropods, males arise from unfertilized eggs. Hence, by controlling the fertilization process mothers can adjust the sex ratio in their offspring. In pseudo-arrhenotokous phytoseiid mites, however, males are haploid, but arise from fertilized eggs. The haploid state is achieved through elimination of the paternal chromosome set during embryonic development. It is shown in this paper that phytoseiid females can control the sex ratio in their offspring and that this control seems as flexible as in arrhenotokous arthropods. As predicted by current evolutionary theory of sex allocation, sex ratios approached half males/half females under random mating, whereas a female bias was observed under sib-mating. The importance of these results for understanding the adaptive significance of pseudo-arrhenotoky is discussed. It is suggested that arrhenotoky is selected for when there is a substantial risk to the females of remaining unmated. When this risk of becoming a ‘wall-flower’ is low, pseudo-arrhenotoky may evolve because it retains the possibility to reinstal lost genetic information in the maternally derived chromosome by using the paternal chromosome as a template for DNA-repair. The retention of the diploid state in males during embryonic development may thus have certain advantages. It is argued that pseudo-arrhenotoky may be an adaptive genetic system under certain conditions, and not an unstable system that readily reverts to diploidy or evolves towards arrhenotoky or thelytoky.

Copyright information

© Elsevier Science Publishers B.V. 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. W. Sabelis
    • 1
  • C. J. Nagelkerke
    • 1
  1. 1.Dept. of Population BiologyUniversity of LeidenLeiden(The Netherlands)
  2. 2.Dept. of Pure and Applied EcologyUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands