University Of Tasmania

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Characterisation and cross-amplification of sex-specific genetic markers in Australasian Egerniinae lizards and their implications for understanding the evolution of sex determination and social complexity

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-21, 06:37 authored by Alix Bouffet-HalleAlix Bouffet-Halle, Yang, W, Gardner, MG, Whiting, MJ, Erik WapstraErik Wapstra, Uller, T, Geoffrey WhileGeoffrey While
Sex is a pervasive factor that underpins functional phenotypic variation across a range of traits. Although sex can usually be distinguished morphologically, in some species this is not possible. The development of genetic markers for sex identification is, thus, key if we are to incorporate sex into an understanding of ecological or evolutionary process. Here we develop genetic markers for the identification of sex within an iconic Australian lizard group, the Egernia group, which is notable for its complex social behaviour. We used restriction-site associated DNA sequencing to characterise sex-specific genetic sequences for a key member of the group, Liopholis whitii, and designed primers for four of these putative sex-specific sequences. These primers amplified across some, but not all, species of the group. Our results provided several important insights. They suggest conservatism of a XX/XY sex determination system within the group as well as sex-specific genomic regions that appear independent of the conserved genomic regions identified in other skink species. More broadly, the development of sex markers for the Egernia group opens up a range of potential research questions related to the role that sex plays in the mediation of social behaviour and, through this, the emergence and stability of social life.


Australian Research Council


Publication title

Australian Journal of Zoology








School of Natural Sciences


C S I R O Publishing

Place of publication

150 Oxford St, Po Box 1139, Collingwood, Australia, Victoria, 3066

Rights statement

© 2022 The Author(s) (or their employer(s)). Published by CSIRO Publishing.

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences