The prevalence and evolution of sex in microorganisms
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The origin of sex and how sex is maintained are among the biggest puzzles in biology. Most investigations into this problem have focused on complex eukaryotes like animals and plants. This mini-review summarizes recent progress in our understanding of the evolution of sex, highlighting results from studies of experimental and natural populations of microorganisms. Increasing evidence indicates that sexual reproduction in natural populations of viruses, bacteria, and eukaryotic microbes is much more prevalent than previously thought. In addition, investigations using experimental microbial populations are providing important parameters relevant to our understanding of the origin and maintenance of sex. It is argued that microbes are excellent model organisms to explore the mechanisms responsible for the evolution of sex.
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