A major evolutionary transition to more than two sexes?
Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 19, (2), . (doi:10.1016/j.tree.2003.10.001).
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Two recently discovered cases of genetic caste determination in social insects might provide the first example of a major evolutionary transition from two to more than two sexes. I argue here that the system can be interpreted as comprising primarily individuals requiring gametes from three parental types and having four sexes from the perspective of demographic extinction. Additionally, I show how this mating system can be seen as a major evolutionary transition. For these populations, it is apparent that the mechanism for a three- or four-sex system does not lie within the myriad of possible arrangements of chromosomes within individuals, but at the next level of evolutionary complexity, with the arrangement of chromosomes among individuals within a social system.
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