Anatomy and chromosomes of two intersexual dasyurid marsupials Academic Article uri icon


  • The intersexual phenotypes of marsupials with XXY and XO chromosome constitutions imply that not all sexual dimorphisms are under the control of testicular hormones and, ultimately, the SRY gene on the Y chromosome. It has been hypothesised that there is a gene on the X chromosome that determines whether either a scrotum will form (one copy of the gene) or a pouch with teats (two copies of the gene). Here, we describe the anatomy and chromosomes of two intersexual dasyurid marsupials. One, a Dasyuroides byrnei, had a pouch, but the reproductive tract was essentially male. The other, a Sminthopsis douglasi, had a hemipouch and a hemiscrotum and the reproductive tract was essentially female. The S. douglasi was a mosaic for cells with an apparently normal 2n = 14, XX female karyotype and cells with 2n = 14 plus (usually) two dot-like supernumerary elements 2n = 14, XX + 2B. The D. byrnei cells examined also had a 2n = 14, XX + 2B karyotype. In fibroblasts from the male and female sides of the S. douglasi, it was possible to assign the 2n = 14, XX karyotype to the male side and the 2n = 14, XX + 2B to the female side.

publication date

  • 2003