Evidence for viable, non-clonal but fatherless Boa constrictors. Academic Article uri icon


  • Parthenogenesis in vertebrates is considered an evolutionary novelty. In snakes, all of which exhibit genetic sex determination with ZZ : ZW sex chromosomes, this rare form of asexual reproduction has failed to yield viable female WW offspring. Only through complex experimental manipulations have WW females been produced, and only in fish and amphibians. Through microsatellite DNA fingerprinting, we provide the first evidence of facultative parthenogenesis in a Boa constrictor, identifying multiple, viable, non-experimentally induced females for the first time in any vertebrate lineage. Although the elevated homozygosity of the offspring in relation to the mother suggests that the mechanism responsible may be terminal fusion automixis, no males were produced, potentially indicating maternal sex chromosome hemizygosity (WO). These findings provide the first evidence of parthenogenesis in the family Boidae (Boas), and suggest that WW females may be more common within basal reptilian lineages than previously assumed.

published proceedings

  • Biol Lett

altmetric score

  • 248.552

author list (cited authors)

  • Booth, W., Johnson, D. H., Moore, S., Schal, C., & Vargo, E. L.

citation count

  • 54

complete list of authors

  • Booth, Warren||Johnson, Daniel H||Moore, Sharon||Schal, Coby||Vargo, Edward L

publication date

  • April 2011