Sex-specific DNA in reptiles with temperature sex determination.




Demas, S.
Duronslet, M.J.
Wachtel, S.
Caillouet, C.W., Jr.
Nakamura, D.

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Banded krait minor (Bkm) satellite DNA, originating in the W-chromosome of the snake Bungarus fasciatus, has been found in the genome of diverse eukaryotic species including fruit fly, quail, and horse. Concentrations of Bkm have been found in the presumptive W-chromosome of snakes with isomorphic sex chromosomes and in the male-determining region of the Y-chromosome in mouse and man. We therefore asked whether Bkm-related DNA might be present in quantitative excess in DNA from males or females in two related species of sea turtle, Chelonia mydas, in which sex is determined by the temperature of the incubating egg, and Lepidochelys kempi, in which the critical sex-determining temperature has recently been described. Filter hybridization with the Bkm 2(8) probe revealed male-specific fragments in both species; female-specific fragments were also revealed in C. mydas. Sex-specific DNA sequences in temperature-sex-determined species such as Kemp's ridley and the green turtle were unexpected, but could be explained if there were an underlying genetic mode of sex determination in these animals, or alternatively, if temperature-influenced sex determination involved structural modifications in DNA adjacent to, or directly concerned with, the sex-determining genes. If these results are confirmed across a broader sample of sea turtles, the techniques described in this paper might be used routinely to identify gender in the young of these endangered animals, in which male and female are grossly indistinguishable.


p. 319-324


deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), sea turtles, sex determination, temperature