Asexual reproduction and the turbellarian archetype

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:1986
Type of Article:article

Myomacrostomum unichaeta n. gen. n. sp.
Myomacrostomum bichaeta n. sp.
The turbellarian archetype is widely believed to have been a hermaphrodite lacking asexual reproduction, and such asexual reproduction as is now seen in the Turbellaria (as paratomy and architomy) is generally assumed to have arisen secondarily several times independently. Asexual reproduction clearly prevails among the most primitive metazoans such as the placozoans, sponges, and radiates, however, and if the Platyhelminthes is indeed an early offshoot of bilaterian evolution, as some have claimed, then it is reasonable to expect asexual reproduction to be a primitive feature of the Turbellaria. Asexual reproduction by paratomy or architomy is found in all three main evolutionary lines of the Tlrrbellaria and is most common among primitive groups such as the Catenulida and Macrostomida. The discovery of a new, apparently primitive marine genus of Macrostomida having paratomy widens the known incidence of asexual reproduction within that order. The presence of a muscle ring around the gut of several distantly related genera of the Macrostomida and similarities this ring shows with septa in the division plane of paratomizing species are evidence that paratomy was a feature of the stem species for this order - a feature only secondarily lost in most macrostomids - and suggest that asexual reproduction is a primitive feature for the Platyhelminthes as a whole.



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