Sex determination in crayfish: are intersex Cherax quadricarinatus (Decapoda, Parastacidae) genetically females? Academic Article uri icon


  • Summary In the Australian red-claw crayfish Cherax quadricarinatus (von Martens) (Decapoda, Parastacidae), a gonochoristic species, seven different combinations of intersex individuals (with both male and female genital openings) have been described. However, to date, the genetic basis for this phenomenon has not been investigated. This study was designed to test a simple chromosome-based sex-determination model for C. quadricarinatus that assumes the male to be the homogametic (ZZ) sex. According to our model, intersex individuals that are functionally males are genetically females (WZ). Individual crosses were performed between intersex and female crayfish, with control crosses being performed between normal males and females. The control crosses yielded, in most cases, the expected 1 : 1 sex ratio in the F1 progeny. Crosses between intersex individuals and females yielded a 1 : 3 (male : female) sex ratio in most crosses. According to our hypothesis, one-third of the females produced in a cross of a female with an intersex animal should be WW females. The hypothesis was tested by crossing normal males with F1 females, which were progeny of intersex fathers. These crosses yielded almost 100% females, a finding that conforms to the above-suggested sex determination model for C. quadricarinatus and the female WZ genotype of intersex individuals.

publication date

  • January 1, 2003