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Parthenogenesis in birds: a review

Parthenogenesis in birds: a review

Parthenogenesis or ‘virgin birth’ is embryonic development in unfertilized eggs. It is a routine means of reproduction in many invertebrates. However, even though parthenogenesis occurs naturally in even more advanced vertebrates, like birds, it is mostly abortive in nature. In fact, multiple limiting factors, such as delayed and unorganized development as well as unfavorable conditions developing within the unfertilized egg upon incubation, are associated with termination of progressive development of parthenogenetic embryos. In birds, diploid parthenogenesis is automictic and facultative producing only males. However, the mechanisms controlling parthenogenesis in birds are not clearly elucidated. Additionally, it appears from even very recent research that these mechanisms may hinder the normal fertilization process and subsequent embryonic development. For instance, virgin quail and turkey hens exhibiting parthenogenesis have reduced reproductive performance following mating. Also, genetic selection and environmental factors, such as live virus vaccinations, are known to trigger the process of parthenogenesis in birds. Therefore, parthenogenesis has a plausible negative impact on the poultry industry. Hence, a better understanding of parthenogenesis and the mechanisms that control it could benefit commercial poultry production. In this context, the aim of this review is to provide a complete overview of the process of parthenogenesis in birds.

Source: The journal of Reproductive Science

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