I have seen that in some books refer to Parthenogenesis as sexual and in others as asexual. The ones that say it's a form of sexual reproduction,they focus on the fact that meios has happened in the process and also,we are using a sexual reproduction system in that animal to produce the offspring. The ones saying it is a from of asexual reproduction focus on the fact that although meios is involved,we only have one parent in the reproduction process and we cannot have any new alleles in the offspring than the ones the parent has.(unless we have mutation)

so how can we conclude in the end?which is it ?

and also,what is the evolutionary explanation for this phenomenon(parthenogenesis)?


Only a matter of definition

It is only a matter of definition. When it comes to sex, there is such a diversity of mating system that it is very hard to make a good definition that won't be challenged by limit cases.

Sexual reproduction can typically be defined based on the presence of meiosis (but again this will lead to limit-cases), on the need for two distinct parents + meiosis, or on the need for two distinct parents which have different gender (anisogamy) + meiosis.

Diversity of reproductive systems

At the end of the day, what one wish to call sexual reproduction does not matter too much as long as the definition is being made clear especially when dealing with potentially limit-cases.

If I remember correctly the intro book to evolutionary biolgy called Evolution by Futuyma makes a good overview of the diversity of reproductive system. Having a vague understanding of this diversity will help you undermine your hope of finding a clearly defined definition for sexual reproduction.

Applying the definition of wikipedia to parthenogenesis

Here is the definition from wikipedia

Sexual reproduction is a form of reproduction where two morphologically distinct types of specialized reproductive cells called gametes fuse together, involving a female's large ovum (or egg) and a male's smaller sperm

Using this definition and applying it to the specific case of parthenogenesis, one would conclude that parthenogenesis is not a form of sexual reproduction (despite the presence of meiosis). Note by the way the even within the term parthenogenesis, there is quite a bit of diversity (see the wikipedia entry for parthenogenesis).

what is the evolutionary explanation for this phenomenon(parthenogenesis)?

I will ignore this question because

  1. A post should always be limited to a single question
  2. This question is very broad
  3. There is not a single answer to this question given the diversity of types of parthenogenesis.

For a start on the subject, you might want to have a look at Jaenike and Selander, 1979 for example.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you very much for your answer.I was still wondering,How can one decide which is more important in the definition ? the presence of Meiosis or the presence of the two parents? $\endgroup$ – Tarannom Nov 30 '16 at 17:37
  • $\begingroup$ More important for what? Also, it is not that easy to really decoupled the two as as soon as you have two parents, you need some mechanism to merge their genetic information (mechanism which is meiosis). If you are asking "is segregation more important than recombination?", then one first needs to acknowledge that segregation is nothing but a recombination rate of 0.5 at the boundaries between chromosomes (more info about recombination rate and their statistics here) $\endgroup$ – Remi.b Nov 30 '16 at 18:03

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