Main article: Evolution of sexual reproduction
It is considered that sexual reproduction in eukaryotes first appeared about a billion years ago and evolved within ancestral single-celled eukaryotes. The reason for the initial evolution of sex, and the reason(s) it has survived to the present, are still matters of debate. Some of the many plausible theories include: that sex creates variation among offspring, sex helps in the spread of advantageous traits, that sex helps in the removal of disadvantageous traits, and that sex evolved as an adaptation for repairing damages in DNA (see Evolution of sexual reproduction). While there are a number of theories, there are two main alternative views on the evolutionary origin and adaptive significance of sex. The first view assumes that sexual reproduction is a process specific to eukaryotes, organisms whose cells contain a nucleus and mitochondria. In addition to sex in animals, plants, and fungi, there are other eukaryotes (e.g. the malaria parasite) that also engage in sexual reproduction. On this first view, the adaptive advantage that maintains sexual reproduction (in competition with asexual modes of reproduction) is the benefit of generating genetic variation among progeny. Furthermore, on this view, sex originated in a eukaryotic lineage. The earliest eukaryotes and the bacterial ancestors from which they arose are assumed to have lacked sex. For instance, some bacteria use conjugation to transfer genetic material between cells; and while not the same as sexual reproduction, this also results in the mixture of genetic traits. The reason that bacterial conjugation is not the same as sexual reproduction is that the numerous genes necessary for conjugation are not located on the bacterial chromosome, but on small circular DNA self-replicating parasitic elements called conjugative plasmids. Thus, conjugation arises from an adaptation of parasitic DNA for its own transmission. The second alternative view on the...
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