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Sex Dev. 2009;3(2-3):60-7. doi: 10.1159/000223071. Epub 2009 Aug 10.

Evolutionary diversity and turn-over of sex determination in teleost fishes.

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  • 1Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.


Sex determination, due to the obvious association with reproduction and Darwinian fitness, has been traditionally assumed to be a relatively conserved trait. However, research on teleost fishes has shown that this need not be the case, as these animals display a remarkable diversity in the ways that they determine sex. These different mechanisms, which include constitutive genetic mechanisms on sex chromosomes, polygenic constitutive mechanisms, environmental influences, hermaphroditism, and unisexuality have each originated numerous independent times in the teleosts. The evolutionary lability of sex determination, and the corresponding rapid rate of turn-over among different modes, makes the teleost clade an excellent model with which to test theories regarding the evolution of sex determining adaptations. Much of the plasticity in sex determination likely results from the dynamic teleost genome, and recent advances in fish genetics and genomics have revealed the role of gene and genome duplication in fostering emergence and turn-over of sex determining mechanisms.

2009 S. Karger AG, Basel.

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