Miracles do Happen! Leonie the Leopard Shark
Switch from sexual to parthenogenetic reproduction in a zebra shark.
Parthenogenesis is a natural form of asexual reproduction in which embryos develop in the absence of fertilisation.
Most commonly found in plants and invertebrate organisms, an increasing number of vertebrate species have recently been reported employing this reproductive strategy. Here we use DNA genotyping to report the first demonstration of an intra-individual switch from sexual to parthenogenetic reproduction in a shark species, the zebra shark Stegostostoma fasciatum. A co-housed, sexually produced daughter zebra shark also commenced parthenogenetic reproduction at the onset of maturity without any prior mating. The demonstration of parthenogenesis in these two conspecific individuals with different sexual histories provides further support that elasmobranch fishes may flexibly adapt their reproductive strategy to environmental circumstances.