The origin and evolution of sexual reproduction up to the evolution of the male-female phenomenon

We’re sorry, something doesn't seem to be working properly.

Please try refreshing the page. If that doesn't work, please contact support so we can address the problem.

Summary

Sexual reproduction is a composite, not a singular, phenomenon and as such can be subdivided into a number of componentsi.e. fusion, recombination, fission, and the male-female phenomenon. These components can evolve independently, though any evolutionary change in one component is likely to influence the future evolution of the other components. The ambiguity that surrounds the term ‘sex’ due to a failure to recognise the composite nature of sexual reproduction has led to considerable confusion in past discussions of the evolution of the phenomenon. This paper considers the possible chronological interaction of the components of sexual reproduction both with each other and with the sequence of selective pressures that seem likely to have acted. This chronological approach is used to consider: the origin of sexual reproduction; the evolution of sexual reproduction in the common ancestor of the procaryotes and eucaryotes; the modification of the ancestral system in the procaryote line following the procaryote-eucaryote dichotomy; and the modification of the ancestral system in the eucaryote line up to the origin of the male-female phenomenon.

It is suggested that the fusion and recombination of the first living organisms were chronological continuations of the fusion and recombination of complex organic molecules that led up to the origin of life. The evolution of the third major component of sexual reproductioni.e. fission (replication), by definition coincided with the origin of life. Initial selection on the components of sexual reproduction are likely to have been related to the optimum manifestations of size, complexity, diversity, multiplication, and distribution. Resultant early evolutionary trends are likely to have been: selective fusion between more-similar organisms; increase in number of fissions per fusion; and less recombination.

The procaryote-eucaryote dichotomy is argued to have evolved in response to the increasing cellular problems of packing and replicating an increasing amount of hereditary material. The evolution of a single circular hereditary organelle in the procaryote line is argued to have led to the loss of total fusion and the specialisation of individuals into either donors or recipients. The donor-recipient phenomenon of procaryotes is directly analogous to the male-female phenomenon of eucaryotes and leads to parallel evolution due to sexual selection in both groups. In the eucaryote line the ancestral mechanism of sexual reproduction is argued to have persisted through, but to have been greatly modified by, the evolution of complex machinery (mitotic/meiotic) for the handling of multiple hereditary organelles at cell division and reduction division. The evolutionary modification of the ancestral system of sexual reproduction is suggested to have led in eucaryotes to the evolution of: the species phenomenon; allelic recombination; and the male-female phenomenon.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. Bernal, J. D. (1967). The origin of life.-Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Bodmer, W. F. (1970). The evolutionary significance of recombination in the Procaryota. Organisation and control in procaryotic and eucaryotic cells, 20th Symposium of the society for general microbiology.-Cambridge University Press.

  3. Boyden, A. A. (1953), Comparative evolution with special reference to primitive mechanisms.-Evolution7, 21–30.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Calvin, M. (1969). Chemical evolution.-Clarendon Press, Oxford.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Campbell, A. (1964). Transduction.in:Gunsalus, I. C. &Stanier, R. Y. (eds), Bacteria, Vol. V, Heredity, 49–86.-Academic Press, New York & London.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Clark, R. B. (1964). Dynamics in metazoan evolution.-Clarendon Press, Oxford.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Cohen, J. (1969). Why so many sperms? An essay on the arithmetic of reproduction.-Sci. Prog., Oxford,57, 23–41.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Crow, J. F. &Kimura, M. (1969). Evolution in sexual and asexual populations: a reply.-Amer. Natur.,103, 89–91.

    Google Scholar 

  9. DeLong, R. (1967). On sexuality in bacteria.-J. theor. Biol.16, 333–6.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Dougherty, E. C. (1955). The origin of sexuality.-Syst. Zool.4, 145–69.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Driskell-Zamenhof, P. (1964). Bacterial episomes.In:Gunsalus, I. C. &Stanier, R. Y. (eds), Bacteria, Vol. V, Heredity, 155–222.-Academic Press, New York & London.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Erlich, P. R. &Holm, R. W. (1963). The process of evolution.-McGraw-Hill, New York.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Fischer-Fantuzzi, L. &DiGirolamo, M. (1961). Triparental mating inEschenchia coli.-Genetics,46, 1305–15.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Fisher, R. A. (1930), The genetical theory of natural selection.-Clarendon Press, Oxford.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Fong, P. (1967). Packing of the DNA molecule.-J. theor. Biol.15, 230–5.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Fuller, H. J. &Tippo, O. (1949). College botany.-Henry Holt & Co., New York.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Gross, J. D. (1964). Conjugation in bacteria.In:Gunsalus, I. C. &Stanier, R. Y. (eds), Bacteria. Vol. V, Heredity. 1–48.-Academic Press, New York & London.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Hamilton, W. D. (1967). Extraordinary sex ratios.-Science,156, 477–88.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Hennig, W. (1950). Grundzüge einer Theorie der phylogenetischen Systematik.- Deutscher Zentralverlag, Berlin.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Hinton, H. E. (1948). A synopsis of the genusTribolium Macleay, with some remarks on the evolution of its species-groups (Coleoptera, Tenebrionidae).-Bull. Entomol. Research39, 13–55.

    Google Scholar 

  21. — (1968). Reversible suspension of metabolism and the origin of life.-Proc. Roy. Soc. (B)171, 43–56.

    Google Scholar 

  22. - (1971). Reversible suspension of metabolism.-De la physique théorique à la biologie,C.N.R.S. 69–89.

  23. — &Blum, M. S. (1965). Suspended animation and the origin of life.-New Scientist.28, 270–1.

    Google Scholar 

  24. Hutner, S. H. &Provasoli, L. (1951). The phytoflagellates.In: Biochemistry and physiology of Protozoa, Vol. 1.-Academic Press, New York & London.

    Google Scholar 

  25. Leedale, G. F. (1968). The nucleus inEuglena.In:Buteow, D. E. (ed.) The biology ofEuglena. Vol. I General biology and ultrastructure. 185–243.- Academic Press, New & York London.

    Google Scholar 

  26. Luria, S. (1953). General virology.-John Wiley & Sons, New York.

    Google Scholar 

  27. Margulis, L. (1970). The origin of eucaryotic cells.-Yale University Press, Newhaven & London.

    Google Scholar 

  28. Maynard-Smith, J. (1971). What use is sex?-J. theor. Biol.30, 319–35.

    Google Scholar 

  29. Mayr, E. (1963). Animal species and evolution.-Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

    Google Scholar 

  30. Oparin, A. I. (1961). Life: its nature, origin, and development.-Oliver & Boyd, Edinburgh & London.

    Google Scholar 

  31. Parker, G. A. (1970a). Sperm competition and its evolutionary consequences in the insects.-Biol, Rev.45, 525–68.

    Google Scholar 

  32. — (1970b). Sperm competition and its evolutionary effect on copula duration in the fly,Scatophaga stercoraria.-J. Insect Physiol.16, 1301–1328.

    Google Scholar 

  33. —,Baker, R. R., &Smith, V. G. F. (1972). The origin and evolution of gamete dimorphism and the male-female phenomenon.-J. theor. Biol.36, 529–53.

    Google Scholar 

  34. Pringsheim, E. G. (1949). The relationship between bacteria and Myxophyceae.- Bact. Revs.13, 47–98.

    Google Scholar 

  35. Savage, J. M. (1969). Evolution (2nd ed.)-Holt, Rinehart & Winston, London.

    Google Scholar 

  36. Schaeffer, P. (1964). Transformation.In:Gunsalus, I. C. &Stanier, R. Y. (eds), Bacteria, Vol. V, Heredity, 87–154.-Academic Press, New York & London.

    Google Scholar 

  37. Sermonti, G. &Hopwood, D. A. (1964). Genetic recombination inStreptomyces.In:Gunsalus, I. C. &Stanier, R. Y. (eds), Bacteria, Vol. V, Heredity, 223–52.-Academic Press, New York & London.

    Google Scholar 

  38. Smith, G. M. (1955). Cryptogamic botany, Vol. I, Algae and fungi.-McGraw-Hill, New York.

    Google Scholar 

  39. Stanier, R. Y. (1964). Toward a definition of the bacteria.In:Gunsalus, I. C. &Stanier, R. Y. (eds), Bacteria, Vol. V, Heredity, 445–64.-Academic Press, New York & London.

    Google Scholar 

  40. Stebbins, G. L. (1960). The comparative evolution of genetic systems.In:Tax, S. (ed.) Evolution after Darwin, Vol. I, The evolution of life, 197–226.-University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

    Google Scholar 

  41. Swanson, C. P., Merz, T. & Young, W. J. (1967). Cytogenetics.-Prentice-Hall International, London.

    Google Scholar 

  42. Trivers, R. L. (1972). Parental investment and sexual selection.In:Campbell, B. (ed.) Sexual selection and the descent of man, 1871–1971.-Aldine, Chicago.

    Google Scholar 

  43. Williams, G. C. (1966). Adaptation and natural selection.-Princeton University Press, Princeton.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Baker, R.R., Parker, G.A. The origin and evolution of sexual reproduction up to the evolution of the male-female phenomenon. Acta Biotheor 22, 49–77 (1973). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01601983

Download citation

Keywords

  • Sexual Selection
  • Sexual Reproduction
  • Composite Nature
  • Considerable Confusion
  • Reduction Division