Gonadal development and differentiation in Alligator mississippiensis at male and female producing incubation temperatures

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Abstract

The development and differentiation of the gonads of embryonic alligators incubated at 30 °C (100% female producing) and 33 °C (100% male producing) was investigated histologically. The stage of development of the gonad and differentiation into an ovary or a testis occurred at essentially the same time at both temperatures. This contrasts with the overall development of the embryos which was slower at the lower temperature. A few days prior to differentiation, gonads grew more quickly at 33 °C than they did at 30 °C. However, once differentiated into a presumptive testis, gonads reduced in volume so that at hatching presumptive testes were smaller than presumptive ovaries. It is hypothesized that synchrony/asynchrony of development of the gonad and the rest of the embryo may account for temperature-dependent sex determination.

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