An international team of researchers belonging to Japan and the US studying American alligators found the presence of TRPV4, a thermosensitive protein, in alligator embryos. Found in the gonads of the embryos, this protein plays a crucial role in influencing the sex of the growing alligators. Researchers discovered that TRPV4 responded to warm temperatures which triggered the protein function, indicating temperature-dependent sex determination (TSD). While incubation at 33 degree Celsius produces mostly males, incubation at 30 degree Celsius produces mostly females, according to the study. This is the first report that demonstrates the association between biomolecule and TSD. Since animals that display TSD seem to be more vulnerable to climate changes, the researchers plan to continue their study to understand how such animals are able to survive this mechanism.
Read more in Science Daily.