The rise and fall of the ancient northern pike master sex-determining gene

Qiaowei Pan, Romain Feron, Elodie Jouanno, Hugo Darras, Amaury Herpin, Ben Koop, Eric Rondeau, Frederick W Goetz, Wesley A Larson, Louis Bernatchez, Mike Tringali, Stephen S Curran, Eric Saillant, Gael PJ Denys, Frank A von Hippel, Songlin Chen, J Andrés López, Hugo Verreycken, Konrad Ocalewicz, Rene GuyomardCamille Eche, Jerome Lluch, Celine Roques, Hongxia Hu, Roger Tabor, Patrick DeHaan, Krista M Nichols, Laurent Journot, Hugues Parrinello, Christophe Klopp, Elena A Interesova, Vladimir Trifonov, Manfred Schartl, John Postlethwait, Yann Guiguen, Molly Przeworski, Detlef Weigel

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The understanding of the evolution of variable sex determination mechanisms across taxa requires comparative studies among closely related species. Following the fate of a known master sex-determining gene, we traced the evolution of sex determination in an entire teleost order (Esociformes). We discovered that the northern pike (Esox lucius) master sex-determining gene originated from a 65 to 90 million-year-old gene duplication event and that it remained sex linked on undifferentiated sex chromosomes for at least 56 million years in multiple species. We identified several independent species- or population-specific sex determination transitions, including a recent loss of a Y chromosome. These findings highlight the diversity of evolutionary fates of master sex-determining genes and the importance of population demographic history in sex determination studies. We hypothesize that occasional sex reversals and genetic bottlenecks provide a non-adaptive explanation for sex determination transitions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e62858
Publication statusPublished - 28-Jan-2021

Thematic List 2020

  • Water
  • Other

Thematic list

  • Fish

EWI Biomedical sciences

  • B330-phylogeny
  • master sex-determining gene

Taxonomic list

  • bony fishes (Osteichtyes)

Geographic list

  • Europe
  • New World (North, Central and South America)


  • genetic technologies


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