Triploid Colubrid Snake Provides Insight into the Mechanism of Sex Determination in Advanced Snakes.
The advanced snakes (Caenophidia), the important amniote lineage encompassing more than 3,000 living species, possess highly conserved female heterogamety across all families. However, we still lack any knowledge on the gene(s) and the molecular mechanism controlling sex determination. Triploid individuals spontaneously appear in populations of diploid species and can provide an important insight into the evolution of sex determination. Here, we report a case of spontaneous triploidy in a male of the twin-spotted ratsnake (Elaphe bimaculata) with ZZW sex chromosomes. We speculate that as both ZZ and ZZW individuals develop male gonads, the ratio between the number of Z chromosomes and autosomes, and not the presence of the W chromosome in the genome, drives sex determination in the advanced snakes.