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A cryptic heterogametic transition revealed by sex-linked DNA markers in Palearctic green toads.
Journal of Evolutionary Biology
In sharp contrast to birds and mammals, most cold-blooded vertebrates have homomorphic (morphologically undifferentiated) sex chromosomes. This might result either from recurrent X-Y recombination (occurring e.g. during occasional events of sex reversal) or from frequent turnovers (during which sex-determining genes are overthrown by new autosomal mutations). Evidence for turnovers is indeed mounting in fish, but very few have so far been documented in amphibians, possibly because of practical difficulties in identifying sex chromosomes. Female heterogamety (ZW) has long been established in Bufo bufo, based on sex reversal and crossing experiments. Here, we investigate a sex-linked marker identified from a laboratory cross between Palearctic green toads (Bufo viridis subgroup). The F(1) offspring produced by a female Bufo balearicus and a male Bufo siculus were phenotypically sexed, displaying an even sex ratio. A sex-specific marker detected in highly reproducible AFLP genotypes was cloned. Sequencing revealed a noncoding, microsatellite-containing fragment. Reamplification and genotyping of families of this and a reciprocal cross showed B. siculus to be male heterogametic (XY) and suggested the same system for B. balearicus. Our results thus reveal a cryptic heterogametic transition within bufonid frogs and help explain patterns of hybrid fitness within the B. viridis subgroup. Turnovers of genetic sex-determination systems may be more frequent in amphibians than previously thought and thus contribute to the prevalence of homomorphic sex chromosomes in this group.
amphibians, Bufo viridis subgroup, male heterogamety, sex chromosomes, sex-linked marker, Animals, Bufonidae/genetics, Female, Genotype, Male, Microsatellite Repeats, Sex Chromosomes, Sex Determination Processes
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