Login | Request Account (DAF staff only)

Epigenetics underpins phenotypic plasticity of protandrous sex change in fish

View Altmetrics

Budd, A. M., Robins, J. B., Whybird, O. and Jerry, D. R. (2022) Epigenetics underpins phenotypic plasticity of protandrous sex change in fish. Ecology and Evolution, 12 (3). e8730. ISSN 2045-7758


Article Link: https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.8730

Publisher URL: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ece3.8730


Abstract Phenotypic plasticity is an important driver of species resilience. Often mediated by epigenetic changes, phenotypic plasticity enables individual genotypes to express variable phenotypes in response to environmental change. Barramundi (Lates calcarifer) are a protandrous (male-first) sequential hermaphrodite that exhibits plasticity in length-at-sex change between geographic regions. This plasticity is likely to be mediated by changes in DNA methylation (DNAm), a well-studied epigenetic modification. To investigate the relationships between length, sex, and DNAm in a sequential hermaphrodite, here, we compare DNAm in four conserved vertebrate sex-determining genes in male and female barramundi of differing lengths from three geographic regions of northern Australia. Barramundi first mature as male and later sex change to female upon the attainment of a larger body size; however, a general pattern of increasing female-specific DNAm markers with increasing length was not observed. Significant differences in DNAm between males and females of similar lengths suggest that female-specific DNAm arises rapidly during sex change, rather than gradually with fish growth. The findings also reveal that region-specific differences in length-at-sex change are accompanied by differences in DNAm and are consistent with variability in remotely sensed sea temperature and salinity. Together, these findings provide the first in situ evidence for epigenetically and environmentally mediated sex change in a protandrous hermaphrodite and offer significant insight into the molecular and ecological processes governing the marked and unique plasticity of sex in fish.

Item Type:Article
Business groups:Animal Science, Fisheries Queensland
Additional Information:Data and code for the DNA methylation analyses can be found at https://github.com/dr-budd/eco_epigen
Subjects:Science > Biology > Evolution
Science > Biology > Genetics
Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Agricultural ecology (General)
Aquaculture and Fisheries > Fisheries > Fishery research
Aquaculture and Fisheries > Fisheries > Fishery for individual species
Live Archive:21 Mar 2022 06:13
Last Modified:21 Mar 2022 06:13

Repository Staff Only: item control page


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics