Asymmetric Inheritance: The Diversity and Evolution of Non-Mendelian Reproductive Strategies

L. Ross, A. J. Mongue, C. N. Hodson and T. Schwander,  Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics,  53:1-23. 2022.

The ability to reproduce is the key trait that distinguishes living organisms from inorganic matter, and the strategies used to achieve successful reproduction are almost as diverse as the organisms themselves. In animals, the most widespread form of reproduction involves separate male and female sexes: Each sex produces haploid gametes via meiosis, and two gametes fuse to form a new diploid organism. In some cases, both parents contribute equally to the nuclear and cytoplasmic genomes of their offspring. However, such fully symmetric reproduction of both parents represents the extreme end of a continuum toward complete asymmetry, where offspring inherit their nuclear and cytoplasmic genomes from only one of the two parents. Asymmetries also occur with respect to the fate of maternally and paternally inherited genomes and which sex is affected by non-Mendelian inheritance. In this review, we describe the diversity of animal reproductive systems along different axes with a symmetry?asymmetry continuum and suggest evolutionary routes that may have led to increased levels of asymmetry.

More related to this: