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Deadly Fungus Mates with Clones of Itself

A fungus that causes a deadly brain infection has a curious mating strategy, in which it reproduces with clones of itself, a new study finds.

Most species that reproduce sexually produce offspring that are a genetic mix of two different parents. But the yeast Cryptococcus neoformans produces offspring “unisexually,” from two identical parents. These offspring have additional copies of certain chromosomes, or threadlike structures that carry DNA, creating genetic diversity from scratch, study researchers say.

Sexual reproduction exists to increase the genetic diversity of a species, making it more adaptable to different environments. But sex comes at a price, requiring two individuals to spend energy and resources looking for a mate.

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