In reptiles, the mode of reproduction is typically sexual. However, facultative parthenogenesis occurs in some Squamata, such as Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis) and Burmese python (Python bivittatus). Here, we report facultative parthenogenesis in the green anaconda (Eunectes murinus). We found two fully developed female neonates and 17 undeveloped eggs in the oviduct of a female anaconda isolated from other individuals for eight years and two months at Ueno Zoo, Japan. To clarify the zygosity of the neonates, we analyzed 18 microsatellite markers of which 16 were informative. We observed only maternal alleles and no paternal alleles for all 16 markers. To examine the possibility of the long-term sperm storage, we estimated allele frequencies in a putative parental stock by genotyping five unrelated founders. If all founders, including the mother, are originated from a single Mendelian population, then the probability that the neonates were produced by sexual reproduction with an unrelated male via long-term sperm storage was infinitesimally small (2.31E-32 per clutch). We also examined samples from two additional offspring that the mother delivered eight years before her death. We consistently observed paternal alleles in these elder offspring, indicating that the mother had switched from sexual reproduction to asexual reproduction during the eight years of isolation. This is the first case of parthenogenesis in Eunectes to be validated by DNA analysis, and suggests that facultative parthenogenesis is widespread in the Boidae.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)