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Keywords:

  • ancient asexual;
  • concerted evolution;
  • Darwinula stevensoni;
  • intraindividual variability;
  • rDNA ITS1;
  • recombination

The lack of variability in ITS regions within individuals and within species has been explained as the result of concerted evolution. In fact, many examples of intraindividual variation in the ITS regions have been reported. Here we report evidence of within-individual variation of the ITS1 region in the obligate parthenogenetic species Darwinula stevensoni. We analysed 46 clones obtained from 12 individuals of D. stevensoni, from three Italian sites and one site in Luxembourg. Seven nucleotides out of 366 were variable. Most variability (80%) was found among clones within individuals, and the remainder of the variability was observed among individuals. No difference was found among populations or between habitats. The low intraspecific variability and the observation of recombinant molecules are evaluated in light of the relevant literature. The high percentage of variation within individuals and the occurrence of recombination without meiosis are discussed by considering the ancient asexual ‘status’ of the species.