asexual reproduction

Asexual reproduction is a mode of reproduction by which offspring arise from a single organism, and inherit the genes of that parent only; it is reproduction which almost never involves ploidy or reduction. The offspring will be exact genetic copies of the parent, except in the specific case of automixis. A more stringent definition is agamogenesis which is reproduction without the fusion of gametes. Asexual reproduction is the primary form of reproduction for single-celled organisms such as the archaebacteria, eubacteria, and protists. Many plants and fungi reproduce asexually as well. While all prokaryotes reproduce asexually (without the formation and fusion of gametes), mechanisms for lateral gene transfer such as conjugation, transformation and transduction are sometimes likened to sexual reproduction (or at least with sex, in the sense of genetic recombination). A complete lack of sexual reproduction is relatively rare among multicellular organisms, particularly animals. It is not entirely understood why the ability to reproduce sexually is so common among them. Current hypotheses suggest that asexual reproduction may have short term benefits when rapid population growth is important or in stable environments, while sexual reproduction offers a net advantage by allowing more rapid generation of genetic diversity, allowing adaptation to changing environments. Developmental constraints may underlie why few animals have relinquished sexual reproduction completely in their life-cycles. Another constraint on switching from sexual to asexual reproduction would be the concomitant loss of meiosis and the protective recombinational repair of DNA damage afforded as one function of meiosis. (Also see Meiosis section: Origin and function of meiosis)