Variability of genetic sex determination in poeciliid fishes

Genetica. 2001;111(1-3):101-10. doi: 10.1023/a:1013795415808.


Poeciliids are one of the best-studied groups of fishes with respect to sex determination. They present an amazing variety of mechanisms, which span from simple XX-XY or ZZ-ZW systems to polyfactorial sex determination. The gonosomes of poeciliids generally are homomorphic, but very early stages of sex chromosome differentiation have been occasionally detected in some species. In the platyfish Xiphophorus maculatus, gene loci involved in melanoma formation, in different pigmentation patterns and in sexual maturity are closely linked to the sex-determining locus in the subtelomeric region of the X- and Y- chromosomes. The majority of traits encoded by these loci are highly polymorphic. This phenomenon might be explained by the high level of genomic plasticity apparently affecting the sex-determining region, where frequent rearrangements such as duplications, deletions, amplifications, and transpositions frequently occur. We propose that the high plasticity of the sex-determining region might explain the variability of sex determination in Xiphophorus and other poeciliids.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence
  • Poecilia / genetics*
  • Sex Chromosomes
  • Sex Determination Processes*