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The evolution of male-female dimorphism: Older than sex?

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This contribution considers the evolution of a dimorphism with respect to cell fusion characteristics in a population of primitive cells. These cells reproduce exclusively asexually. The evolution towards asymmetric fusion behaviour of cells is driven by selection promoting horizontal transfer of an endosymbiontic replicator. It is concluded that evolution of asymmetric cell fusion in this scenario is more likely than evolution of sexual differentiation in a sexually reproducing population. Pre-existing dimorphism with respect to cell fusion may thus have been the basis for the establishment of sexual differentiation at the level of gamete fusion, and this in turn is fundamental to the evolution of two different sexes, male and female.

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Hoekstra, R.F. The evolution of male-female dimorphism: Older than sex?. J. Genet. 69, 11–15 (1990).

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