Parthenogenesis

Floyd Waddle fwaddle at CHI1.UNCFSU.EDU
Wed Jan 22 19:37:31 EST 1997


Laurie Davison <ldavison at service1.uky.edu> wrote:

> I was going through some literature on mating behavior and came
> accross a reference to the "parthenogenic whiptail lizard". Apparantly
> 
> the females can lay eggs which will develop without fertilization (all
> 
> offspring, obviously, are female). In some of my earlier courses in
> college I was taught that rabbits have this same potential, but found
> later that this was not true after all.
> The Whiptail lizard example is in a book published in the mid-eighties
> 
> by Kevles and I wondered if this information were still considered
> accurate, or whether like the rabbit, it was found to be untrue? For
> that
> matter, can anyone give me any other examples of *known* parthenogenic
> 
> animals? Just curious, really. Thanks:)

The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and 
Amphibians lists eight species of whiptail as "Unisexual; no mating.", 
and one species as "Primarily unisexual; only a few males have been 
found."  It does not say whether these species are diploid or triploid, 
but it sticks in my mind that at least some of them are triploid.  There 
was an article on them in Scientific American some years ago.

I am not aware that either natural or induced parthenogenesis has been 
documented in mammals.  One line to turkeys (Beltsville?) produces about 
5% egg hatch (all males) from virgin hens.  Some "amazon" mollies (fish) 
are diploid, some triploid. If I remember correctly, amazon (all female) 
lines originate as hybrids between two species of molly. They require 
mating by males of one of the parent species.  But the sperm are 
necessary only to stimulate the process of embryonic development.  The 
sperm nucleus does not join with the egg nucleus. 

What's fun is what you can do with a frog egg.



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