Genetic exchange among bdelloid rotifers is more likely due to horizontal gene transfer than to meiotic sex
SUMMARY: This study looked at the conclusion drawn by another team of researchers that said that bdelloid rotifers possibly used a type of meiosis similar to that found in a genus of plants called Oenothera . Five hundred seventy-six rotifers of the same genus (Adineta) were identified and the gene from their cytochrome c oxidase gene was sequenced (this would be a gene they all share). What this study found was that the rotifers were acquiring genetic diversity through horizontal gene transfer, not meiosis. The genomes of the rotifers showed no recombination and had other signs of asexual reproduction.
LESSON COMMENTS: This article is very heavy on the genetics lingo. Students will need a firm understanding of alleles, meiosis, and chromosomes. Cryptic species will need to be defined and explained as well as the type of meiosis that the plants in genus Oenothera go through. Luckily, Figure 6 of this article clearly illustrates the differences between regular meiosis, Oenothera meiosis, and rotifer asexual reproduction.
N. Debortoli, X. Li, I. Eyres, D. Fontaneto, B. Hespeels, C. Q. Tang, J.-F. Flot, and K. Van Doninck, “Genetic Exchange among Bdelloid Rotifers Is More Likely Due to Horizontal Gene Transfer Than to Meiotic Sex,” Current Biology, vol. 26, no. 6, pp. 723–732, 2016.