From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Parthogenesis
Mains level : Parthogenesis
- About a week ago, the New England Aquarium in the US announced that a “virgin” anaconda had given birth during the winter.
- This is Immaculate Conception in Catholicism; in scientific terminology, it is parthenogenesis.
- This is only the second known case of parthenogenesis in green anacondas. It is not unknown in snakes, but undocumented enough to make it to scientific journals.
- The term parthenogenesis is a amalgam of the Greek words parthenos meaning virgin and genesis meaning origin.
- About 2,000 species are known to reproduce through parthenogenesis, which is one of the known means of asexual reproduction.
- It is a reproductive strategy that involves development of a female (rarely a male) gamete (sex cell) without fertililisation.
- It occurs commonly among lower plants and invertebrate animals (particularly rotifers, aphids, ants, wasps and bees) and rarely among higher vertebrates”.
- A gamete is the egg in females and the sperm in males. In animals, parthenogenesis means development of an embryo from an unfertilized egg cell.
- Many species that reproduce through parthenogenesis do not reproduce sexually. Others switch between the two modes taking cues from the environment.
How are the babies?
- Babies born through parthenogenesis are clones of the mother, as has now been confirmed by the aquarium through DNA tests.
- Parthenogenetic offspring tend to be clones of the parent because there has been no exchange and rearrangement of genetic information with another individual as happens in case of a sexual reproductive process.
- In some species, offspring born by parthenogenesis from a mother can also be male but it lacks one X chromosome.