Free Essay: How Temperature Determines Sex in Reptiles and the Consequences of This Mode of Sex

Published: 2022-04-05
Free Essay: How Temperature Determines Sex in Reptiles and the Consequences of This Mode of Sex
Type of paper:  Problem solving
Categories:  Biology Animals
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1826 words
16 min read

Temperature-dependent sex determination (TSD) is an environment sex determinant whereby the temperature that is experienced during the larval/embryonic development determines the sex of the offspring. This kind of behavior is common on the teleost fish and reptile. TSD is distinct from the chromosomal sex-determination system that is common among vertebrates (Warner & Shine, 2008). Depending on the species of the reptile, the important incubation period lasts between 7 and 15 days, and then the times that follow that follow after that period the sex of the individual can never be reversed.

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It is the most prevalent and most examined sort of ecological sex determination (ESD). Other different conditions, such as pH, environmental background color, and density, are additionally seen to adjust sex proportion, which could be categorized either as temperature-dependent sex differentiation or temperature-dependent sex differentiation, contingent upon the included mechanisms (Warner & Shine, 2008). As the sex-determining tool, hereditary sex assurance and (GSD) TSD ought to be considered in a proportionate manner, which can prompt rethinking the status of fish species that are asserted to have TSD when submitted to extreme temperatures rather than the temperature experienced amid improvement in the wild. It is because the changes in sex proportion with temperature variety are biologically and evolutionally relevant.

While TSD has been seen in numerous reptile and fish species, the hereditary contrasts amongst genders and atomic instruments of TSD have not been disclosed. The cortisol-interceded pathway and epigenetic administrative pathway are believed to be the potential components associated with TSD.

Temperature is the main factor that influences the eggs whereby they are incubated during the middle one-third of embryonic development; the incubation period is referred to as the thermo sensitive period (TSP). The particular time of sex-committed is referred because of a few scholars settling the histological order of sex differentiation in the gonads of turtles with TSD.


The thermo sensitive also referred to as temperature-touchy, period (TSP) refers to the development phase whereby sex is inversely determined. It applies in regards to the species with the temperature-dependent sex determination like the turtle and crocodilians.

The TSP typically traverses the center third of incubation having the endpoints characterized by embryonic stage. The degree of the TSP differs a slightly among species, and developments inside the oviducts ought to be considered in species in the case the embryo is at a moderately late phase of growth among the egg laying (e.g., many lizards). Temperature beats amid the thermo sensitive period are regularly adequate to decide sex, yet after the TSP, sex is inert to temperature. However, after this period, sex cannot be reversed (Warner & Shine, 2008).

The temperature at the time of the critical incubation period influences the mechanism of the aromatase, the hormone that changes androgen (male hormone) to estrogens (female hormone). The biological activity of the aromatase is restricted at the point of male-producing temperature, whereas the biological activity of the aromatase is reserved at the female-producing temperature.

The reptiles that have the sex chromosomes and the incubation temperature interrelate to determine sex may denote the "transitional" evolutionary conditions between the two endpoints: complete TSD and complete GSD.


In the mechanism, two different patterns have been identified named and titled Pattern I and Pattern II; additionally, the Pattern I is further separated into IA and IB.

The pattern IA has a single zone of transition, the site where the eggs mainly hatch male if they are incubation takes place below this temperature zone, But when the temperature zone exceeds the egg will make it will mainly hatch the males. The kind of pattern IA characteristic is resent among the turtles, where there is the transition between the female-producing temperatures and the male-producing temperatures taking place over a range of temperatures at the minimum of 1-2oC. While patter IB has a single transition zone and it is different, whereby the male is produced above it while the female is produced below it, this kind of a pattern is experienced among the tuatara.

Furthermore, pattern II has dual transition zone, having the female dominating at both extremes. Pattern II takes place among the lizards, crocodilians, and turtles, at the pivotal or near the temperature of sex determination, inter-sex individuals (more rarely) and mixed-sex ratio. It has been projected that all TSD modes are essentially Pattern II and the ones that diverge from the likely female-male-female design are the species whose nests have never been observed left to harsh temperatures ranges one end of the range or the other (Valenzuela & Lance, 2004).

The difference between the TSD and the chromosomal sex-determination system is not clear since the sex among some species like the Pogona vitticeps (central bearded dragon) and Bassiana duperreyi (three-lined skink) - are identified by the sex chromosomes. Though this is surpassed by the temperature that seems to be bearable although extreme (Valenzuela & Lance, 2004). Besides, the experiment that is coordinated at the area where the temperature is vague in its effects, such as the pivotal temperature, have proven that a fundamental genetic tendency to be one sex or the other.

Comparing Sex Determination in the Mammals

In comparison to mammals, they have few distinguished exceptions, in them, the chromes XX for male and XY for female are the chromosomes system for determining the gender of the embryo whereby the Y chromosome carries the male-dominant testis-determining gene SRYY chromosome. The chromosomes X of many of the placental mammals have the nearly identical gene content, while the debased chromosome Y comprises of the overlapping subsections of little active genes. Furthermore, for another species of Marsupial mammals, they have the little X and a Y chromosome that denotes the ancestral therein mammal sex couple shows the ancient area of the human sex chromosomes. The mamma chromosomes X and Y developed from the pair of autosomes when the proto-Y attained the male-degenerating gene, the Y degenerated, and X-Y recombination between the male-advantage genes (Valenzuela & Lance, 2004).

How temperature-dependent sex determination (TSD) in reptiles is affected by climate change

In the recent studies, there has been vigorous scientific attention within the evolutionary and ecological effects of the climate change in the species with the temperature-dependent sex determination (TSD). Apparently, the fundamental effect if climate changes on TSD species will include the imbalance of the sex ratios, consequently threatening the population viability. According to the recent laboratory investigation (Valenzuela & Lance, 2004), the present climate change being experienced may not result into skewed sex ratios among many of the TSD species such as reptiles; such kind of the observation could encounter the current notion of the interaction between climate change and the TSD.

Research conducted by Seshagiri (2012) shows that there is a slight range of temperature that allows both the females and the males to hatch from the same brood of eggs. As shown in the graph below, it is the demonstration of the abrupt temperature-induced change I the sex ratio for the red-eared slider turtle. In the case where the eggs are incubated below 28o, all the turtles hatching from them will be male. While the eggs that are exposed to the temperature of above 310 hatches to give rise to the individual of both sexes. The variations between the two sexes also exist. Whereas the eggs of the snapping turtle Macroclemys, given that it becomes female at either hot (28C or above) or cool (22C or lower) temperatures. Between the extremes, the male will predominate.

Temperature reliant gender determination was at first explained in the area of Agama during the year 1966 by an individual identified as Madeleine Charnier. In the study conducted in the year 2015, it established that hot temperatures cause the alteration of the sex types of chromosomes in Australia's bearded types of dragon lizards. The lizards looked feminine and had the capability of bearing offspring irrespective of possessing the ZZ chromosomes that are often linked to the male counterparts. Latest scientific attention has risen with the focus being on the ecological and evolutionary impacts of the change of climate on species endowed with temperature relying upon sex determination (TSD). Indeed, the most notable change due to the effect of climate on the species of TSD will emerge to be as the imbalance of the gender ratios and eventually becoming a threat to the viability of the population. Studies carried in the laboratories recently suggest that the present change in climate may not be significant in causing the skewed nature of the gender ratios for varieties of TSDs. The observations may offer the challenge to the present view on the interplay on change on climate and the TSD.

Hormones in TSD systems

Synergism linking hormones and temperature has been established within these very systems. Administration of the estradiol to the male generating temperatures result in the production of the females that have the physiological identity to the temperature generated females. In the reverse of the experiment, males generated within the temperatures of the female only takes where nonaromatizable types of testosterone or the aromatase type of inhibitor are applied. In this regard, it depicts of the enzymes that have a responsibility in converting the testosterone to estradiol. On its part, aromatase serves a role in the development of the females. Nevertheless, the TSD mechanism is not known though in some ways they have a resemblance to the genetic sex description (GSD) especially concerning the aromatase impacts in every process. In certain species of fish, aromatase exists in the female organisms' ovaries that passed through TSD and also those that passed through the GSD. The same include those with at most 85% of the sequence of coding for every aromatase being the same thus proving that aromatase has no uniqueness to the TSD. Eventually, it suggests that there need to be in place another factor on top it that also impacts on TSD.

On an interesting note, temperature and hormones have signs of performing similarly; that is less number of hormones are needed in the production of sexual migration as the conditions of incubation approach the pivotal temperature. There has been the suggestion that temperature tends to act on genes responsible for coding of the steroidogenic types of enzymes and the test of the homologous GSD pathways that has offered the genetic point of beginning. Despite this, the genetic gender description pathway within the TSD turtles is not well understood, and the mechanism of control for either male or female commitment is also yet to be explained.

Though sex hormones have been established to have been influenced by temperature, thus standing a chance in the alteration of the sexual phenotypes, certain genes within the gonadal pathway of differentiation show temperature affected by expression. In certain species, such vital sex defining genes that include the DMRT1 and the ones engaged in the Wnt signaling pathway may be implicated as being genes responsible in the provision of the mechanism for evolution form of development of the TSD. While the aromatase is engaged in extensive process apart from TSD, it has been e...

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