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How is sex determined in reptiles if sex chromosomes are absent?

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Through environmental factors like temperature, genetics can be altered, and sex can be finalized. Press play to learn:

  • How incubation can make three genders in central bearded dragons
  • Markers being used to determine the effect of climate change on the studied reptiles
  • How environmental cues are sensed by cells and transduced into genetic changes

Sarah Whiteley, a Post-doctoral Fellow in the Institute for Applied Ecology at the University of Canberra, shares her work researching environmentally sensitive sex determination in central bearded dragons.

Human sex at birth is determined by sex chromosomes and is rarely, if ever, determined by the environment during gestation. However, for some species of reptiles like the central bearded dragon, their gender is determined by environmental factors like temperature.

Gene expression is one of the most common forms of this, which can cause sex reversal and changes. This is one of the many effects of global climate change and can adversely affect the reptile population.

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