Stick insects `sexless for 1.5 million years`

Last Updated: Sunday, July 10, 2011 - 16:24

London: Scientists have discovered a species of stick insect which they claim may have been asexual 1.5 million years.

An international team, led by Bernard Crespi of Simon University in Burnaby, says that the Timema tahoe stick insects could be on the road to a slow extinction as they may
have been celibate for so long, the `New Scientist` reported.

Ditching sex means no risky matings, but harmful mutations build up over the generations, so asexual animals shouldn`t survive for long, say the scientists.

They established the last time Timema tahoe had sex by studying mutation rates of two genes, the findings of which have been published in the latest edition of the `Current
Biology` journal.

A lack of sex might eventually catch up with the insect, according to David Hillis of the University of Texas at Austin, as 1.5 million years is not long in evolutionary
terms.

"It looks like asexuals arise commonly and must go extinct commonly too," he said.

PTI



First Published: Sunday, July 10, 2011 - 16:24
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