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   Evolution of Sex

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Evolutionary biologists have been struggling to explain for the past 100 years why sex exists. In theory, asexual organisms should fare much better than their sexual counterparts - a species of parthenogenetic females, for example, could reproduce twice as fast and wouldn't have to waste valuable time seeking an appealing mate. However, we know from nature that sexually reproducing species predominate, whereas asexual lineages are few and short-lived. Why does sex survive despite its obvious costs? And where should we start looking for answers to this 'paradox of sex'? The April issue of Nature Reviews Genetics is dedicated to these and related questions, with an emphasis on empirical studies that have become possible with the application of molecular genetic methods to evolutionary issues.

The study of sex engages scientists from different areas of biology, who investigate how and why sex evolved in the first place, why it is maintained, and how the distinct morphology of the two sexes has developed and evolved in animals and plants. The diversity of these disciplines is reflected in this Web Focus, where we have grouped these articles with other related Reviews and Highlights that have appeared in this journal over the past 18 months, and with relevant research, review and commentary articles from the Nature Publishing Group. The problem of sex might be an old one, but the variety of issues it raises will continue to provide challenges for years to come.

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