Female shark makes world-first switch to asexual reproduction

A Leopard female shark in Australia has become the first shark to change from sexual to asexual reproduction in a switch that could save her species. (Screen grab)

A Leopard female shark in Australia has become the first shark to change from sexual to asexual reproduction in a switch that could save her species, according to British media reports.

Leonie, at Townsville’s Reef HQ Aquarium in Queensland, Australia, has given birth to three pups despite being separated from her male partner, in unprecedented process “which could save her species”, scientists said,according to the Daily Mail newspaper.

Leonie and her male Leopard shark have produced several offspring before he was removed from the aquarium due to issues with space.

Dr. Christine Dudgeon, who led the study for the University of Queensland School of Biomedical Science said the test showed the pupus only carried cells from “Leonie”, meaning that the trigger for the switch to asexual reproduction was the loss of the male.

“She adapted to the circumstance. It shows how flexible the shark’s reproductive system really is”, Dudgeon explained.

The team of researchers will follow the pups until they reach maturity to see if asexually produced zebra sharks can reproduce with a male partner.

Leopard sharks are recently included in the International Union for Conservation of Nature - IUCN - “Red List of Threatened Species” as endangered. The animal has been impacted largely by overfishing.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:50 - GMT 06:50
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