Genetic sex determination mechanisms and evolution

Bioessays. 1992 Apr;14(4):253-61. doi: 10.1002/bies.950140409.


Different animal groups exhibit a surprisingly diversity of sex determination systems. Moreover, even systems that are superficially similar may utilize different underlying mechanisms. This diversity is illustrated by a comparison of sex determination in three well-studied model organisms: the fruitfly Drosophila melanogaster, the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, and the mouse. All three animals exhibit male heterogamety, extensive sexual dimorphism and sex chromosome dosage compensation, yet the molecular and cellular processes involved are now known to be quite unrelated. The similarities must have arisen by convergent evolution. Studies of sex determination demonstrate that evolution can produce a variety of solutions to the same basic problems in development.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Caenorhabditis / genetics
  • Drosophila / genetics
  • Mice
  • Models, Genetic
  • Phenotype
  • Sex Determination Analysis*