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A parthenogenetic Varanus

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image of Amphibia-Reptilia

We report on a case of parthenogenesis in the varanid lizard Varanus panoptes. Parthenogenesis was observed in a female kept alone for three years. A clutch was deposited from which a single egg could be secured and incubated. Incubation was successful and a male specimen hatched. Obviously the newborn was produced without contribution of a father. After the unisexual reproduction, the mother was kept with males and bisexual reproduction was observed, too. We performed DNA Fingerprinting and showed that the parthenogen and its mother exhibit almost identical DNA patterns. The bisexually produced offspring has only a subset of bands in common with the mother and another subset in common with the father. Thus DNA Fingerprinting is in accordance with our observations and confims parthenogenesis.

We compare our results with existing cytological models of parthenogenesis and point out the following: 1. The mode of parthenogenesis described here is facultative, as the mother was able to reproduce in the bisexual mode as well. 2. The parthenogen is male and hence not a clone of the mother. 3. Almost complete heredity of maternal Fingerprint markers. All these points considered our case seem to fit to no known model of parthenogenesis exactly. But an additional recombination could result homogamety (would explain the sex of the parthenogen) while expressing almost all maternal bands.


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