Brevia

Temperature Sex Reversal Implies Sex Gene Dosage in a Reptile

Science  20 Apr 2007:
Vol. 316, Issue 5823, pp. 411
DOI: 10.1126/science.1135925

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Abstract

Sex in reptiles is determined by genes on sex chromosomes or by incubation temperature. Previously these two modes were thought to be distinct, yet we show that high incubation temperatures reverse genotypic males (ZZ) to phenotypic females in a lizard with ZZ and ZW sex chromosomes. Thus, the W chromosome is not necessary for female differentiation. Sex determination is probably via a dosage-sensitive male-determining gene on the Z chromosome that is inactivated by extreme temperatures. Our data invite a novel hypothesis for the evolution of temperature-dependent sex determination (TSD) and suggest that sex chromosomes may exist in many TSD reptiles.

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