Amphibian sex determination and sex reversal

Cell Mol Life Sci. 1999 Jun;55(6-7):901-9. doi: 10.1007/s000180050343.


Amphibians employ a genetic mechanism of sex determination, according to all available information on sex chromosomes or breeding tests. Sex reversal allows breeding tests to establish which sex is heterogametic and provides an indication of the mechanism of sex determination. Cases of spontaneous and experimental sex reversal (by temperature, hormones or surgery) are reviewed and illustrated by previously unpublished studies on crested newts. These newts respond conventionally to temperature and hormone treatment but provide anomalous results from breeding tests. It is suggested that both the evolution from temperature dependency to a genetic switch and from ZZ/ZW to XX/XY are superimposed on a generally uniform mechanism of sex determination in all vertebrates.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amphibians / embryology
  • Amphibians / genetics
  • Amphibians / growth & development
  • Amphibians / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Castration
  • Disorders of Sex Development*
  • Female
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones / pharmacology
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones / physiology
  • Gonads / embryology
  • Gonads / transplantation
  • Larva
  • Male
  • Sex Determination Processes*
  • Sex Differentiation / drug effects
  • Sex Differentiation / genetics*
  • Temperature
  • X Chromosome
  • Y Chromosome


  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones