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Genetics. Oct 2002; 162(2): 767–780.
PMCID: PMC1462291

Exploring the envelope. Systematic alteration in the sex-determination system of the nematode caenorhabditis elegans.


The natural sexes of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans are the self-fertilizing hermaphrodite (XX) and the male (XO). The underlying genetic pathway controlling sexual phenotype has been extensively investigated. Mutations in key regulatory genes have been used to create a series of stable populations in which sex is determined not by X chromosome dosage, but in a variety of other ways, many of which mimic the diverse sex-determination systems found in different animal species. Most of these artificial strains have male and female sexes. Each of seven autosomal genes can be made to adopt a role as the primary determinant of sex, and each of the five autosomes can carry the primary determinant, thereby becoming a sex chromosome. Strains with sex determination by fragment chromosomes, episomes, compound chromosomes, or environmental factors have also been constructed. The creation of these strains demonstrates the ease with which one sex-determination system can be transformed into another.

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Selected References

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