In biology, mating (or mateing in British English) is the pairing of
either opposite-sex or hermaphroditic organisms, usually for the
purposes of sexual reproduction. Some definitions limit the term to
pairing between animals, while other definitions extend the term to
mating in plants and fungi.
Fertilization is the fusion of both sex
cell or gamete. Copulation is the union of the sex organs of two
sexually reproducing animals for insemination and subsequent internal
Mating may also lead to external fertilization, as seen
in amphibians, fishes and plants. For the majority of species, mating
is between two individuals of opposite sexes. However, for some
hermaphroditic species, copulation is not required because the parent
organism is capable of self-fertilization (autogamy); for example,
The term mating is also applied to related processes in bacteria,
archaea and viruses.
Mating in these cases involves the pairing of
individuals, accompanied by the pairing of their homologous
chromosomes and then exchange of genomic information leading to
formation of recombinant progeny (see mating systems).
2 Plants and fungi
4 See also
6 External links
Main article: Animal sexual behaviour
Copulation (zoology) and Human mating strategies
For animals, mating strategies include random mating, disassortative
mating, assortative mating, or a mating pool. In some birds, it
includes behaviors such as nest-building and feeding offspring. The
human practice of mating and artificially inseminating domesticated
animals is part of animal husbandry.
In some terrestrial arthropods, including insects representing basal
(primitive) phylogenetic clades, the male deposits spermatozoa on the
substrate, sometimes stored within a special structure. Courtship
involves inducing the female to take up the sperm package into her
genital opening without actual copulation. In groups such as
dragonflies and many spiders, males extrude sperm into secondary
copulatory structures removed from their genital opening, which are
then used to inseminate the female (in dragonflies, it is a set of
modified sternites on the second abdominal segment; in spiders, it is
the male pedipalps). In advanced groups of insects, the male uses its
aedeagus, a structure formed from the terminal segments of the
abdomen, to deposit sperm directly (though sometimes in a capsule
called a "spermatophore") into the female's reproductive tract.
Other animals reproduce sexually with external fertilization,
including many basal vertebrates. Vertebrates (such as reptiles, some
fish, and most birds) reproduce with internal fertilization through
cloacal copulation (see also hemipenis), while
mammals copulate vaginally.
Macaque monkeys mating
Gray wolves mating
Hermaphroditic snails (Cornu aspersum) mating
African spurred tortoises (Centrochelys sulcata) mating
Chalkhill blue butterflies (Polyommatus coridon) mating
Hoverflies (Simosyrphus grandicornis) mating in midair
Poplar hawk-moths (Laothoe populi) mating
Spittlebugs (Aphrophora alni) mating
Plants and fungi
Mating systems § In plants,
Mating in fungi, and
Mating of yeast
Like in animals, mating in other Eukaryotes, such as plants and fungi,
denotes sexual conjugation[clarify]. However, in vascular plants this
is mostly achieved without physical contact between mating individuals
(see pollination), and in some cases, e.g., in fungi no
distinguishable male or female organs exist (see isogamy); however,
mating types in some fungal species are somewhat analogous to sexual
dimorphism in animals, and determine whether or not two individual
isolates can mate.
Yeasts are eukaryotic microorganisms classified in
the kingdom Fungi, with 1,500 species currently described. In
general, under high stress conditions like nutrient starvation,
haploid cells will die; under the same conditions, however, diploid
Saccharomyces cerevisiae can undergo sporulation, entering
sexual reproduction (meiosis) and produce a variety of haploid spores,
which can go on to mate (conjugate) and reform the diploid.
Protists are a large group of diverse eukaryotic microorganisms,
mainly unicellular animals and plants, that do not form tissues.
Eukaryotes emerged in evolution more than 1.5 billion years ago.
The earliest eukaryotes were likely protists.
Mating and sexual
reproduction are widespread among extant eukaryotes including protists
Paramecium and Chlamydomonas. In many eukaryotic species,
mating is promoted by sex pheromones including the protist Blepharisma
japonicum. Based on a phylogenetic analysis, Dacks and Roger
proposed that facultative sex was present in the common ancestor of
However, to many biologists it seemed unlikely until recently, that
mating and sex could be a primordial and fundamental characteristic of
eukaryotes. A principal reason for this view was that mating and sex
appeared to be lacking in certain pathogenic protists whose ancestors
branched off early from the eukaryotic family tree. However, several
of these protists are now known to be capable of, or to recently have
had, the capability for meiosis and hence mating. To cite one example,
the common intestinal parasite Giardia intestinalis was once
considered to be a descendant of a protist lineage that predated the
emergence of meiosis and sex. However, G. intestinalis was recently
found to have a core set of genes that function in meiosis and that
are widely present among sexual eukaryotes. These results suggested
that G. intestinalis is capable of meiosis and thus mating and sexual
reproduction. Furthermore, direct evidence for meiotic recombination,
indicative of mating and sexual reproduction, was also found in G.
intestinalis. Other protists for which evidence of mating and
sexual reproduction has recently been described are parasitic protozoa
of the genus Leishmania, Trichomonas vaginalis, and
Protists generally reproduce asexually under favorable environmental
conditions, but tend to reproduce sexually under stressful conditions,
such as starvation or heat shock.
Breeding in the wild
Evolution of sex
Mate choice copying
Sex determination system
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