Int. J. Dev. Biol. 34: 365 - 375 (1990)
© UPV/EHU Press

Differential germ cell proliferation in the salamander pleurodeles waltl: controls by sexual genotype and by thermal epigenetic factor before differentiation of sexual phenotype of gonads.

C Dournon, D Durand, C Demassieux and M Lesimple

Laboratoire de Biologie Expérimentale, Université de Nancy I, France.

ABSTRACT In the acceptance that, during early gonadogenesis, variations of germ cell (GC) proliferation express interactions between germ and somatic cells, early events occurring before histological differentiation of gonadal sex has been detected and timed through GC counts on larvae of Pleurodeles waltl (urodele amphibia) issued from male ZZ or female ZW monosexual offspring. Gonads differentiate in accordance with sexual genotype in ZZ and ZW larvae at room temperature and in ZZ larvae at 32 degrees C whereas they are sex-reversed at 32 degrees C in ZW larvae, becoming phenotypic neomales. At both the rearing temperatures, in genital ridges, GCs do not proliferate during a period called P0 period ending earlier in ZZ than in ZW larvae. The time when proliferation starts depends on sexual genotypes and determines a ZZP0 period shorter than ZWP0 period. After P0 period, at room temperature, a moderate increase in GC number determining a P1 period is observed in both ZZ and ZW larvae, whereas a strong proliferation, determining a P2 period, occurs on a differential pattern in ZZ and ZW larvae; thus, before sexual differentiation of gonads, ZW females have more GCs than ZZ males. At 32 degrees C, GC proliferation is moderate during P1 period and does not accelerate during P2 period in ZW larvae differentiating neotestes; they have a lower GC number than ZZ larvae reared at 32 degrees C. Thus, during P2 period, at both room temperature and at 32 degrees C, GC number correlates with future phenotype of gonads. Results suggest that differential molecular events arise during early gonadogenesis and that testes may differentiate in different ways according to whether phenotype conforms to genotype or sex reversion occurs.