Sexual vs. asexual reproduction

A large number of soil animal species reproduce by parthenogenesis, including earthworms, enchytraeids and collembola, but is most pronounced in oribatid mites with an estimated 10% of the species being parthenogenetic. Factors responsible for the high incidence of parthenogenesis in soil are largely unknown. Our studies focus on oribatid mites because of their exceptional high rate of parthenogenesis. As basis to understand the evolution of parthenogenesis phylogenetic relationships of oribatid mites are investigated. Molecular markers employed include ITS1, COI, COII, 18S rDNA, HSP82 and EF1á. Further, models on the evolution of parthenogenesis vs. sexuality are developed integrating an ecological point of view. Major research topics include:

  • Biogeography of Collembola: Evidence for post glacial recolonization of Europe
  • Genetic variability in parthenogenetic vs sexual soil animal species
  • Phylogenetic relationship in oribatid mites
  • General purpose genotype vs frozen niche variation model
  • Driving factors for sex ratios
  • Lack of recombination (Meselson effect)
  • Ecological models on the evolution of sex