Sex reversal in birds

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleOtherpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Sexual differentiation in birds is controlled genetically as in mammals, although the sex chromosomes are different. Males have a ZZ sex chromosome constitution, while females are ZW. Gene(s) on the sex chromosomes must initiate gonadal sex differentiation during embryonic life, inducing paired testes in ZZ individuals and unilateral ovaries in ZW individuals. The traditional view of avian sexual differentiation aligns with that expounded for other vertebrates; upon sexual differentiation, the gonads secrete sex steroid hormones that masculinise or feminise the rest of the body. However, recent studies on naturally occurring or experimentally induced avian sex reversal suggest a significant role for direct genetic factors, in addition to sex hormones, in regulating sexual differentiation of the soma in birds. This review will provide an overview of sex determination in birds and both naturally and experimentally induced sex reversal, with emphasis on the key role of oestrogen. We then consider how recent studies on sex reversal and gynandromorphic birds (half male:half female) are shaping our understanding of sexual differentiation in avians and in vertebrates more broadly. Current evidence shows that sexual differentiation in birds is a mix of direct genetic and hormonal mechanisms. Perturbation of either of these components may lead to sex reversal.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)288-300
Number of pages13
JournalSexual Development
Volume10
Issue number5-6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016

Keywords

  • Avian
  • Chicken gonad
  • Sex determination
  • Sex reversal

Cite this

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title = "Sex reversal in birds",
abstract = "Sexual differentiation in birds is controlled genetically as in mammals, although the sex chromosomes are different. Males have a ZZ sex chromosome constitution, while females are ZW. Gene(s) on the sex chromosomes must initiate gonadal sex differentiation during embryonic life, inducing paired testes in ZZ individuals and unilateral ovaries in ZW individuals. The traditional view of avian sexual differentiation aligns with that expounded for other vertebrates; upon sexual differentiation, the gonads secrete sex steroid hormones that masculinise or feminise the rest of the body. However, recent studies on naturally occurring or experimentally induced avian sex reversal suggest a significant role for direct genetic factors, in addition to sex hormones, in regulating sexual differentiation of the soma in birds. This review will provide an overview of sex determination in birds and both naturally and experimentally induced sex reversal, with emphasis on the key role of oestrogen. We then consider how recent studies on sex reversal and gynandromorphic birds (half male:half female) are shaping our understanding of sexual differentiation in avians and in vertebrates more broadly. Current evidence shows that sexual differentiation in birds is a mix of direct genetic and hormonal mechanisms. Perturbation of either of these components may lead to sex reversal.",
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Sex reversal in birds. / Major, Andrew T.; Smith, Craig A.

In: Sexual Development, Vol. 10, No. 5-6, 12.2016, p. 288-300.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleOtherpeer-review

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AB - Sexual differentiation in birds is controlled genetically as in mammals, although the sex chromosomes are different. Males have a ZZ sex chromosome constitution, while females are ZW. Gene(s) on the sex chromosomes must initiate gonadal sex differentiation during embryonic life, inducing paired testes in ZZ individuals and unilateral ovaries in ZW individuals. The traditional view of avian sexual differentiation aligns with that expounded for other vertebrates; upon sexual differentiation, the gonads secrete sex steroid hormones that masculinise or feminise the rest of the body. However, recent studies on naturally occurring or experimentally induced avian sex reversal suggest a significant role for direct genetic factors, in addition to sex hormones, in regulating sexual differentiation of the soma in birds. This review will provide an overview of sex determination in birds and both naturally and experimentally induced sex reversal, with emphasis on the key role of oestrogen. We then consider how recent studies on sex reversal and gynandromorphic birds (half male:half female) are shaping our understanding of sexual differentiation in avians and in vertebrates more broadly. Current evidence shows that sexual differentiation in birds is a mix of direct genetic and hormonal mechanisms. Perturbation of either of these components may lead to sex reversal.

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