Int. J. Dev. Biol. 52: 837 - 856 (2008)
doi: 10.1387/ijdb.072396ls
© UBC Press

Sex-determining mechanisms in insects

Lucas Sánchez

Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas (C.S.I.C), Madrid, Spain

ABSTRACT Sex determination refers to the developmental programme that commits the embryo to either the male or the female pathway. The animal kingdom possesses a wealth of mechanisms via which gender is decided, all of which are represented among the insects. This manuscript focuses on a number of insects for which genetic and molecular data regarding sex determination mechanisms are available. The sex determination genetic cascade of Drosophila melanogaster is first discussed, followed by an analysis of the sex determination genes of other dipteran and non-dipteran insects. Representative examples of sex determination mechanisms that differ in their primary signal are also described. Finally, some evolutionary aspects of these mechanisms are discussed.

Keywords:

Drosophila, Apis, Sciarids, Coccids, heterochromatisation, chromosome elimination

*Corresponding author e-mail: lsanchez@cib.csic.es