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Evolutionary perspectives on clonal reproduction in vertebrate animals

Abstract

© 2015, National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. A synopsis is provided of different expressions of whole-animal vertebrate clonality (asexual organismal-level reproduction), both in the laboratory and in nature. For vertebrate taxa, such clonal phenomena include the following: human-mediated cloning via artificial nuclear transfer; intergenerational clonality in nature via parthenogenesis and gynogenesis; intergenerational hemiclonality via hybridogenesis and kleptogenesis; intragenerational clonality via polyembryony; and what in effect qualifies as clonal replication via self-fertilization and intense inbreeding by simultaneous hermaphrodites. Each of these clonal or quasi-clonal mechanisms is described, and its evolutionary genetic ramifications are addressed. By affording an atypical vantage on standard vertebrate reproduction, clonality offers fresh perspectives on the evolutionary and ecological significance of recombination-derived genetic variety.

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