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 P.J. 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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


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 (US)
Pages (from-to)1-50
Number of pages50
StatePublished - Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology


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