Although tardigrades can reproduce only through gametes they have exploited several modes of reproduction, which may be determined by their environment. Marine species (mainly heterotardigrades) are gonochoristic; hermaphroditism is only cited once, and parthenogenesis is unknown. In many cases females mature one egg at a time throughout adult life, whereas males are semelparous. Gonochorism is still present in limno-terrestrial species, while sporadic hermaphroditism occurs in several eutardigrade families. Thelytoky is the most common mode of reproduction in non-marine Tardigrada. Females are iteroparous, laying groups of eggs (free or in the exuvium), while males are semelparous (in a limnic species) or iteroparous with a continuous or cyclical maturation of the spermatozoa (in species from moss and leaf litter). Self-fertilisation appears to characterise hermaphroditic species, found in freshwater, mosses, leaf litter and soil. Egg maturation in these species is similar to that of the gonochoristic species, while spermatozoa mature in appreciable numbers before the oocytes, subsequently maturing continuously but in small numbers over the life of the animal. Parthenogenesis in limno-terrestrial tardigrades always appears continuous. In many species only females occur, but morpho-species populations may be found with both bisexual amphimictic (diploid) and unisexual thelytokous (often but not always polyploid) cytotypes. We can hypothesise that with the evolution of cryptobiosis and passive dispersal unstable and isolated habitats may favour parthenogenesis and self-fertilisation, as both reproductive modes allow colonisation of a new territory by a single individual. Parthenogenesis and hermaphroditism do not occur in the same species, and we can surmise that self-fertilisation will only evolve where parthenogenesis has never occurred.
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|Anno di pubblicazione:||2001|
|Titolo:||Evolution of the reproductive mechanisms in tardigrades - A review|
|Autori interni:||BERTOLANI, Roberto|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||Articolo su rivista|
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