Evolution of sexual reproduction, sexes and sex determination systems

Winter semester 2018
17 Oct 2018 - 7 Feb 2019

Prof. Dr. Jochen Wolf
Dr. Bart Nieuwenhuis

Course Description

Sexual reproduction is the most common mode of reproduction in nature, however, its existence is one of the biggest problems in evolutionary biology. Why did sexual reproduction, a costly form of reproduction, evolve and why is it maintained? What led to the evolution of the two specialized groups ‘males’ and ‘females’? How does sex and the existence of sexes affect evolution at the genetic and genome level? In this seminar, based on classical and recent literature, we discuss these topics from the fundamental theory to recent genomic insights. Last years list of papers etc can be found here:


nieuwenhuis AT bio.lmu.de




Biozentrum - room E 02.023
Großhadern Str. 2


In order to pass, students must (co-)lead the discussion of one session and participate actively in the discussion of all other topics.
The final grading is based both on the presentation (50%) and on the student's participation in the discussion throughout the entire course (50%).

Program Summer Semester 2018

Program (Summer semester 2018)

Class 1. Introduction - 18.10.18

Introduction (Slides) about: Organization of the course

Class 2. Sex, the "Queen of all problems" - 25.10.18


Speijer D, J Lukeš & M Eliáš. “Sex Is a Ubiquitous, Ancient, and Inherent Attribute of Eukaryotic Life.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112, no. 29 (2015): 8827–34. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1501725112.

Class 3. Benefits of recombination - 8.11.18


McDonald MJ, DP Rice & MM Desai. “Sex Speeds Adaptation by Altering the Dynamics of Molecular Evolution.” Nature 531, no. 7593 (2016): 233–36. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature17143.

Class 4. Frequency of sexual reproduction - 15.11.18


Luijckx P, EK Ho Ho, M Gasim, S Chen, A Stanic, C Yanchus, Y Seong Kim & AF Agrawal. “Higher Rates of Sex Evolve during Adaptation to More Complex Environments.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 114, no. 3 (2017): 534–39. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1604072114.

Class 5. Evolution of sexual asymmetries: mating types - 22.11.18


Constable, GWA, and H Kokko. “The Rate of Facultative Sex Governs the Number of Expected Mating Types in Isogamous Species.” Nature Ecology & Evolution 2, no. 7 (July 2018): 1168–75. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41559-018-0580-9.

Class 6. Evolution of sexual asymmetries: anisogamy - 29.11.18


Hanschen ER, MD Herron, JJ Wiens, H Nozaki, and RE Michod. “Multicellularity Drives the Evolution of Sexual Traits.” The American Naturalist 192, no. 3 (July 10, 2018): E93–105. https://doi.org/10.1086/698301.

Class 7. Evolution of sexual asymmetries: separate sexes - 6.12.18


Charlesworth B & D Charlesworth. “A Model for the Evolution of Dioecy and Gynodioecy.” The American Naturalist 112, no. 988 (1978): 975–97. https://doi.org/10.1086/283342, pdf.

Class 8. Diversity of sex determination systems - 20.12.18


Pennell MW, JE Mank, and CL Peichel. “Transitions in Sex Determination and Sex Chromosomes across Vertebrate Species.” Molecular Ecology 27, no. 19 (2018): 3950–63. https://doi.org/10.1111/mec.14540.

Class 9. Sexes and “sex roles” - 10.1.19


Jennions MD, and L Fromhage. “Not All Sex Ratios Are Equal: The Fisher Condition, Parental Care and Sexual Selection.” Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 372, no. 1729 (2017): 20160312. https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2016.0312.

Class 10. Sexual conflict - 17.1.19


Vicoso B, JJ Emerson, Y Zektser, S Mahajan & D Bachtrog. “Comparative Sex Chromosome Genomics in Snakes: Differentiation, Evolutionary Strata, and Lack of Global Dosage Compensation.” PLoS Biol 11, no. 8 (2013): e1001643. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.1001643.

Class 11. Sex chromosome evolution - 24.1.19


Fontaine A, I Filipović, T Fansiri, A Hoffmann, C Cheng, M Kirkpatrick, G Rašić & L Lambrechts. “Extensive Genetic Differentiation between Homomorphic Sex Chromosomes in the Mosquito Vector, Aedes aegypti.” Genome Biology and Evolution 9, no. 9 (September 1, 2017): 2322–35. https://doi.org/10.1093/gbe/evx171.

Class 12. Sex chromosome turnover - 31.1.19


Class 13. Cheating Mendel - 7.2.19


De La Filia, AG, S Andrewes, JM Clark & L Ross. “The Unusual Reproductive System of Head and Body Lice (Pediculus humanus).” Medical and Veterinary Entomology 32, no. 2 (June 2018): 226–34. https://doi.org/10.1111/mve.12287.