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Science Paper Examines Genetics of Adaptive Intersexuality in Moles

An analysis of the mole genome that reveals the genetic underpinnings of adaptive intersexuality in the animal is published in Science this week. While sex in mammals is determined by genetic elements that direct the differentiation of the bipotential gonad into either testicular or ovarian tissue, in the Iberian mole (Talpa occidentalis) genotypic females develop ovotestes instead of ovaries. To investigate this distinctive trait, a Max Planck Institute-led team combined a chromosome-scale genome assembly of T. occidentalis with transcriptomic, epigenetic, and chromatin interaction datasets and identify rearrangements altering the regulatory landscape of genes with distinct gonadal expression patterns. "Our results highlight how integrative genomic approaches can reveal the phenotypic impact of noncoding sequence changes," the study's authors write.