Even Single Cells Can Have

The common yeast used to make bread and beer, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, appears fairly frequently in this book because it has proven to be a great experimental organism. Like many other unicellular organisms, yeasts have two mating types that are conceptually like the male and female gametes (eggs and sperm) of higher organisms. Two yeast cells of opposite mating type can fuse, or mate, to produce a third cell type containing the genetic material from each cell (Figure 1-5). Such sexual life cycles allow more rapid changes in genetic inheritance than would be possible without sex, resulting in valuable adaptations while quickly eliminating detrimental mutations. That, and not just Hollywood, is probably why sex is so ubiquitous.

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