Sex-determining mechanisms in insects

Int J Dev Biol. 2008;52(7):837-56. doi: 10.1387/ijdb.072396ls.


Sex determination refers to the developmental programme that commits the embryo to either the male or the female pathway. The animal kingdom possesses a wealth of mechanisms via which gender is decided, all of which are represented among the insects. This manuscript focuses on a number of insects for which genetic and molecular data regarding sex determination mechanisms are available. The sex determination genetic cascade of Drosophila melanogaster is first discussed, followed by an analysis of the sex determination genes of other dipteran and non-dipteran insects. Representative examples of sex determination mechanisms that differ in their primary signal are also described. Finally, some evolutionary aspects of these mechanisms are discussed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alternative Splicing
  • Animals
  • Drosophila / genetics
  • Drosophila / metabolism
  • Drosophila Proteins / genetics
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics
  • Drosophila melanogaster / metabolism
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Female
  • Genes, Insect*
  • Genes, Lethal
  • Male
  • Models, Genetic*
  • Sex Chromosomes* / metabolism
  • Sex Determination Processes*


  • Drosophila Proteins