Evolution of sexual reproduction, sexes and sex determination systems

summer semester 2018
10 Apr 2018 - 10 Jul 2018

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.





Biozentrum - room B 01.015
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.
Thu 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 - 10.4.18

Introduction (Slides) about: Organization of the course

Class 2. Queen of all problems in biology - 17.4.18

Paper 1: Otto, SP. “The Evolutionary Enigma of Sex.” The American Naturalist 174, no. s1 (2009): S1–14. https://doi.org/10.1086/599084.
Paper 2: Hartfield, M. “Evolutionary Genetic Consequences of Facultative Sex and Outcrossing.” Journal of Evolutionary Biology 29, no. 1 (2016): 5–22. https://doi.org/10.1111/jeb.12770.

Class 3. Benefits of recombination - 8.5.18

Paper 1: 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.
Paper 2: Ono J, AC Gerstein & SP Otto. “Widespread genetic incompatibilities between first-step mutations during parallel adaptation of Saccharomyces cerevisiae to a common environment.” PLOS Biology 15, no. 1 (2017): e1002591. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.1002591.

Class 4. Benefits of sexually produced variation - 15.5.18

Paper 1: 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.
Paper 2: Metzger CMJA, P Luijckx, G Bento, M Mariadassou & D Ebert. “The Red Queen Lives: Epistasis between Linked Resistance Loci.” Evolution 70, no. 2 (2016): 480–87. https://doi.org/10.1111/evo.12854.

Class 5. Evolution of sexual asymmetries: mating types - 22.5.18

Paper 1: Perrin N. “What Uses Are Mating Types? The ‘Developmental Switch’ Model.” Evolution 66, no. 4 (2012): 947–56. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1558-5646.2011.01562.x.
Paper 2: Hadjivasiliou Z & A Pomiankowski. “Gamete Signalling Underlies the Evolution of Mating Types and Their Number.” Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 371, no. 1706 (2016): 20150531. https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2015.0531.

Class 6. Evolution of sexual asymmetries: anisogamy - 29.5.18

Paper 1: Lüpold S, MK Manier, N Puniamoorthy, C Schoff, WT Starmer, S Buckley Luepold, JM Belote & S Pitnick. “How Sexual Selection Can Drive the Evolution of Costly Sperm Ornamentation.” Nature 533, no. 7604 (2016): 535–38. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature18005.
Paper 2: Parker GA & J Lehtonen. “Gamete Evolution and Sperm Numbers: Sperm Competition versus Sperm Limitation.” Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 281, no. 1791 (2014): 20140836. https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2014.0836.

Class 7. Evolution of sexual asymmetries: separate sexes - 5.6.18

Paper 1: Ferris P, BJSC Olson, PL De Hoff, S Douglass, D Casero, S Prochnik, S Geng, et al. “Evolution of an expanded sex-determining locus in Volvox.” Science 328, no. 5976 (2010): 351–54. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1186222.
Paper 2: Charnov EL, JJ Bull & J Maynard Smith. “Why Be an Hermaphrodite?” Nature 263, no. 5573 (1976): 125–26. https://doi.org/10.1038/263125a0.

Class 8. Diversity of sex determination systems - 12.6.18

Paper 1: Bachtrog D, JE Mank, CL Peichel, M Kirkpatrick, SP Otto, T-L Ashman, MW Hahn, et al. “Sex Determination: Why so Many Ways of Doing It?” PLOS Biology 12, no. 7 (July 1, 2014): e1001899. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.1001899.

Class 9. Sexes and “sex roles”

Paper 1: Schärer L, L Rowe & G Arnqvist. “Anisogamy, Chance and the Evolution of Sex Roles.” Trends in Ecology & Evolution 27, no. 5 (2012): 260–64. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tree.2011.12.006.
Paper 2: Ah-King M. “On Anisogamy and the Evolution of ‘Sex Roles.’” Trends in Ecology & Evolution 28, no. 1 (2013): 1–2. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tree.2012.04.004.
Paper 3: Kokko H, I Booksmythe & MD Jennions. “Causality and Sex Roles: Prejudice against Patterns? A Reply to Ah-King.” Trends in Ecology & Evolution 28, no. 1 (2013): 2–4. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tree.2012.08.008.

Class 10. Sex chromosome evolution - 26.6.18

Paper 1: 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.
Paper 2: Irwin Darren E. “Sex Chromosomes and Speciation in Birds and Other ZW Systems.” Molecular Ecology 0, no. 0 (February 14, 2018). https://doi.org/10.1111/mec.14537.

Class 11. Sex chromosome turnover - 3.7.18

Paper 1: van Doorn GS & M Kirkpatrick. “Turnover of Sex Chromosomes Induced by Sexual Conflict.” Nature 449, no. 7164 (2007): 909–12. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature06178.
Paper 2: Blaser O, S Neuenschwander & N Perrin. “Sex-Chromosome Turnovers: The Hot-Potato Model.” The American Naturalist 183, no. 1 (January 1, 2014): 140–46. https://doi.org/10.1086/674026.

Class 12. Sexual conflict - 10.7.18

Paper 1: Edward DA, P Stockley & DJ Hosken. “Sexual Conflict and Sperm Competition.” Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Biology 7, no. 4 (2015): a017707. https://doi.org/10.1101/cshperspect.a017707.
Paper 2: Firman RC, C Gasparini, MK Manier & T Pizzari. “Postmating Female Control: 20 Years of Cryptic Female Choice.” Trends in Ecology & Evolution 32, no. 5 (2017): 368–82. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tree.2017.02.010.