Sex determination in turtles

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The sex of many reptile species is set by temperature. New research reported in the journal Genetics identifies the first gene associated with temperature-dependent sex determination in any reptile. Variation at this gene in snapping turtles contributes to geographic differences in the way sex ratio is influenced by temperature.

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It is often difficult to determine the gender of a pet turtle, especially if you did not purchase it from a breeder that hatched them from controlled temperature environments. The temperature during egg incubation is what determines whether an embryo will become a male or female; cooler incubation temperatures produce males and females develop in warmer temperatures. Thankfully there are some types of turtles that make it easier than others to distinguish a male from a female without knowing their incubation temperature.

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Skip navigation. The sex of a reptile embryo partly results from the production of sex hormones during development, and one such process to produce those hormones depends on temperature of the embryo's environment. The production of sex hormones can result solely from genetics or from genetics in combination with the influence of environmental factors.

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In certain turtle species, the temperature of the egg determines whether the offspring is female or male. But now, new research shows that the embryos have some say in their own sexual destiny: they can move around inside the egg to find different temperatures. The study, publishing August 1 in the journal Current Biologyexamines how this behavior may help turtles offset the effects of climate change.

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A Green turtle hatchling heads to sea in the northwest Hawaiian islands. In most species, gender is determined during fertilization. However, the sex of most turtlesalligators, and crocodiles is determined after fertilization.

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Skip to search form Skip to main content. Jackson and Craig E. JacksonCraig E.

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It is the most popular and most studied type of environmental sex determination ESD. Some other conditions, e. While TSD has been observed in many reptile and fish species, the genetic differences between sexes and molecular mechanisms of TSD have not been disclosed.

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NCBI Bookshelf. While the sex of most snakes and most lizards is determined by sex chromosomes at the time of fertilization, the sex of most turtles and all species of crocodilians is determined by the environment after fertilization. In these reptiles, the temperature of the eggs during a certain period of development is the deciding factor in determining sex, and small changes in temperature can cause dramatic changes in the sex ratio Bull There is only a small range of temperatures that permits both males and females to hatch from the same brood of eggs.

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In certain other animals, however, sex is determined by environmental temperature TSD. Among turtle species, however, examples of both types of sex determination can be found. It remains unclear, however, how and why different sex determining mechanisms exist.

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Alex Quinn, a Ph. Sex-determining mechanisms in reptiles are broadly divided into two main categories: genotypic sex determination GSD and temperature-dependent sex determination TSD. Species in the genotypic group, like mammals and birds, have sex chromosomes, which in reptiles come in two major types. Many species—such as several species of turtle and lizards, like the green iguana—have X and Y sex chromosomes again, like mammalswith females being "homogametic," that is, having two identical X chromosomes.