Rare but persistent asexual reproduction explains the success of planktonic foraminifera in polar oceans
The reproductive strategy of planktonic foraminifera, key pelagic calcifiers, has long remained elusive, hampering efforts to understand and model their population dynamics. This is particularly critical in polar oceans where their success relies on rapid population growth after the polar night. Here, we provide field and laboratory observations constraining the reproductive cycle of the dominant polar species Neogloboquadrina pachyderma in Antarctic and Arctic waters. We observe that asexual reproduction is a rare but persistent element of the reproductive strategy and that it is reflected in a dimorphism in proloculus and in the ratio of shell size versus the number of chambers between sexually and asexually produced individuals. This dimorphism in natural populations reveals that asexual reproduction supplies more than 75% of adult individuals. This indicates a multigenerational reproduction strategy, where the majority of the population releases gametes to facilitate recombination, while a minority persistently reproduces asexually, allowing rapid population growth as a prerequisite for success in the polar oceans.
Authors: Meilland, Julie, Ezat, Mohamed M, WestgÅrd, Adele, Manno, Clara ORCID record for Clara Manno, Morard, RaphaËl, Siccha, Michael, Kucera, Michal