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Sex Allocation Strategies of Pseudo-Arrhenotokous Phytoseiid Mites by

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image of Netherlands Journal of Zoology
For more content, see Archives Néerlandaises de Zoologie (Vol 1-17) and Animal Biology (Vol 53 and onwards).

In arrhenotokous arthropods males arise from unfertilized eggs. Hence, by controlling the fertilization process mothers can adjust the sex ratio in their offspring. In pseudo-arrhenotokous phytoseiid mites, however, males are haploid, but arise from fertilized eggs. The haploid state is achieved through elimination of the paternal chromosome set during embryonic development. It is shown in this paper that phytoseiid females can control the sex ratio in their offspring and that this control seems as flexible as in arrhenotokous arthropods. As predicted by current evolutionary theory of sex allocation, sex ratios approached half males, half females under random mating, whereas a female bias was observed under sib-mating. The importance of these results for understanding the adaptive significance of pseudo-arrhenotoky are discussed. It is suggested that arrhenotoky is selected for when there is a substantial risk to the females of remaining unmated. When this risk of becoming a wall flower is low, pseudo-arrhenotoky may evolve because it retains the possibility to reinstal lost genetic information in the maternally derived chromosome by using the paternal chromosome as a template for DNA-repair. The retention of the diploid state in males during embryonic development may thus have certain advantages. It is argued that pseudo-arrhenotoky may be an adaptive genetic system under certain conditions and not an instable system that readily reverts to diploidy or evolves towards arrhenotoky or thelytoky.

Affiliations: 1: (Department of Population Biology, University of Leiden, P.O. Box 9516, 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands


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