Research Highlights | Published:

Developmental biology

Dragon lizard gets sex change

Nature volume 534, page 299 (16 June 2016) | Download Citation

A shift in egg-incubation temperature can result in a genetically male lizard having a mix of male and female traits.

Image: Arthur Georges

The sex of some reptile species is determined by genetics, but in others it depends on egg-incubation temperature. Richard Shine at the University of Sydney in Australia and his colleagues studied hatchlings and juveniles of the central bearded dragon (Pogona vitticeps; male pictured). In this species, sex is normally controlled genetically, but incubation temperatures of 32 °C and above can produce sex-reversed females from male embryos. The team incubated eggs at constant temperatures between 26 °C and 34 °C, and found that although sex-reversed females are capable of laying eggs — and even produce more eggs than genetic females — they are similar to males in their morphology and behaviour.

This mix of traits could enhance fitness under certain conditions, which could cause a rapid elimination of sex-determination genes, the authors say.

About this article

Publication history

Published

DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/534299e

Authors

    Comments

    By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.

    Newsletter Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing