Environmentally-induced sex reversal in fish with chromosomal vs. polygenic sex determination

Valdivieso, A., Wilson, C.A., Amores, A., da Silva Rodrigues, M., Nóbrega, R.H., Ribas, L., Postlethwait, J.H., Piferrer, F.
Environmental research   213: 113549 (Journal)
Registered Authors
Amores, Angel, Postlethwait, John H., Wilson, Catherine
Global warming, Neomales, Sex determination, Sex ratios, Sex-reversal, Zebrafish
MeSH Terms
  • Animals
  • Chromosomes
  • Female
  • Male
  • Sex Determination Processes*
  • Sex Ratio
  • Temperature
  • Zebrafish*/genetics
35618011 Full text @ Environ. Res.
Sex ratio depends on sex determination mechanisms and is a key demographic parameter determining population viability and resilience to natural and anthropogenic stressors. There is increasing evidence that the environment can alter sex ratio even in genetically sex-determined species (GSD), as elevated temperature can cause female-to-male sex reversal (neomales). Alarmingly, neomales are being discovered in natural populations of several fish, amphibian and reptile species worldwide. Understanding the basis of neomale development is important for conservation biology. Among GSD species, it is unknown whether those with chromosomal sex determination (CSD), the most common system, will better resist the influence of high temperature than those with polygenic sex determination (PSD). Here, we compared the effects of elevated temperature in two wild zebrafish strains, Nadia (NA) and Ekkwill (EKW), which have CSD with a ZZ/ZW system, against the AB laboratory strain, which has PSD. First, we uncovered novel sex genotypes and the results showed that, at control temperature, the masculinization rate roughly doubled with the addition of each Z chromosome, while some ZW and WW fish of the wild strains became neomales. Surprisingly, we found that at elevated temperatures WW fish were just as likely as ZW fish to become neomales and that all strains were equally susceptible to masculinization. These results demonstrate that the Z chromosome is not essential for male development and that the dose of W buffers masculinization at the control temperature but not at elevated temperature. Furthermore, at the elevated temperature the testes of neomales, but not of normal males, contained more spermatozoa than at the control temperature. Our results show in an unprecedented way that, in a global warming scenario, CSD species may not necessarily be better protected against the masculinizing effect of elevated temperature than PSD species, and reveal genotype-by-temperature interactions in male sex determination and spermatogenesis.
Genes / Markers
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Mutations / Transgenics
Human Disease / Model
Sequence Targeting Reagents
Engineered Foreign Genes