A model for environmental sex reversal in fish

Hurley, Margaret Anne orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-2502-432X, Matthiessen, P. and Pickering, A.D. (2004) A model for environmental sex reversal in fish. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 227 (2). pp. 159-165. ISSN 0022-5193

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jtbi.2003.10.010


A mathematical model is presented which combines genetic XX-female/XY-male sex determination with environmental pressure for phenotypic sex reversal. This may occur when fishes are exposed to endocrine disrupters, specifically masculinization by exposure to androgens and feminization by exposure to estrogens. A generic model is derived for the sex ratio in successive generations and three special cases, with chronic and constant pressure to sex reverse, are discussed in detail. These show that, with extreme environmental pressure to masculinize, the male genotype is at risk of dying out but with less extreme pressure, masculinization will not be detectable since the proportion of phenotypic males becomes one-half. With feminization at any pressure to sex reverse, the male and female genotypes will be maintained in a stable sex ratio in which the proportion of genotypic males exceeds one-half and is close to one-half if YY offspring (eggs) are not viable. In converse, the model is also applicable to the genetic ZZ-male/ZW-female system of sex determination in fish. At present suitable data are not available with which to validate the model, but proposals are made for relevant experimental studies.

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