Current address: Department of Biology and the Roy J. Carver Center for Comparative Genomics, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, USA.
Can phosphorus limitation contribute to the maintenance of sex? A test of a key assumption
Article first published online: 23 APR 2009
© 2009 The Authors. Journal Compilation © 2009 European Society For Evolutionary Biology
Journal of Evolutionary Biology
Volume 22, Issue 6, pages 1359–1363, June 2009
How to Cite
NEIMAN, M., THEISEN, K. M., MAYRY, M. E. and KAY, A. D. (2009), Can phosphorus limitation contribute to the maintenance of sex? A test of a key assumption. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 22: 1359–1363. doi: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2009.01748.x
M. Neiman, Department of Biology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA.
- Issue published online: 5 MAY 2009
- Article first published online: 23 APR 2009
- Received 16 February 2009; revised 19 March 2009; accepted 23 March 2009
- ecological stoichiometry;
- polyploid, ploidy;
- Potamopyrgus antipodarum;
Why sex is so common remains unclear; what is certain is that the predominance of sex despite its profound costs means that it must confer major advantages. Here, we use elemental and nucleic acid assays to evaluate a key element of a novel, integrative hypothesis considering whether sex might be favoured because of differences in body composition between sexuals and asexuals. We found that asexual Potamopyrgus antipodarum, a New Zealand snail, have markedly higher bodily phosphorus and nucleic acid content per unit mass than sexual counterparts. These differences coincide with and are almost certainly linked to the higher ploidy of the asexuals. Our results are the first documented body composition differences between sexual and asexual organisms, and the first detected phenotypic difference between sexual and asexual P. antipodarum, an important natural model system for the study of the maintenance of sex. These findings also verify a central component of our hypothesis that competition between diploid sexuals and polyploid asexuals could be influenced by phosphorus availability.