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Transgenerational sex determination: the embryonic environment experienced by a male lizard affects the sex ratio of his offspring

  • Daniel Warner
  • Tobias Uller
  • Richard Shine
Publishing year: 2013
Language: English
Publication/Series: Scientific Reports
Volume: 3
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Nature Publishing Group

Abstract english

Conditions experienced during embryonic development can have lasting effects, even carrying across generations. Most evidence for transgenerational effects comes from studies of female mammals, with much less known about egg-laying organisms or paternally-mediated effects. Here we show that offspring sex can be affected by the incubation temperature its father experiences years earlier. We incubated eggs of an Australian lizard with temperature-dependent sex determination under three thermal regimes; some eggs were given an aromatase inhibitor to produce sons at temperatures that usually produce only daughters. Offspring were raised to maturity and freely interbred within field enclosures. After incubating eggs of the subsequent generation and assigning parentage, we found that the developmental temperature experienced by a male significantly influences the sex of his future progeny. This transgenerational effect on sex ratio may reflect an epigenetic influence on paternally-inherited DNA. Clearly, sex determination in reptiles is far more complex than is currently envisaged.


  • Biological Sciences


  • ISSN: 2045-2322
Tobias Uller
E-mail: tobias.uller [at]


Evolutionary ecology

+46 46 222 30 94


Sölvegatan 37, Lund


Research group

Experimental Evolution, Ecology & Behaviour


Doctoral students and postdocs

I am currently about to move to Lund from University of Oxford. For details about DPhil students and postdocs in my previous research group based at the Edward Grey Institute, please click here

Downloads & links

CV (pdf; 241 kB)