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Fully female spider (Drassodes saccatus) with left male pedipalp, an example of mosaic gynandromorphism
Heteropteryx dilatata gynandromorph
Gynandromorph of the small white, Pieris rapae.

A gynandromorph is an organism that contains both male and female characteristics. The term gynandromorph, from Greek "gyne" female and "andro" male, is mainly used in the field of entomology. These characteristics can be seen in butterflies, where both male and female characteristics can be seen physically because of sexual dimorphism. Cases of gynandromorphism have also been reported in crustaceans, especially lobsters, sometimes crabs and even in birds.[1][2][3][4] A clear example in birds is the gynandromorphic zebra finch. These birds have lateralised brain structures in the face of a common steroid signal, providing strong evidence for a non-hormonal primary sex mechanism regulating brain differentiation.[5]

A gynandromorph can have bilateral asymmetry, one side female and one side male,[6] or they can be mosaic, a case in which the two sexes aren't defined as clearly.[citation needed]

Bilateral gynandromorphy arises very early in development, typically when the organism has between 8 and 64 cells.[7] Later the gynandromorph is mosaic.[citation needed]

The cause of this phenomenon is typically, but not always, an event in mitosis during early development. While the organism is only a few cells large, one of the dividing cells does not split its sex chromosomes typically. This leads to one of the two cells having sex chromosomes that cause male development and the other cell having chromosomes that cause female development. For example, an XY cell undergoing mitosis duplicates its chromosomes, becoming XXYY. Usually this cell would divide into two XY cells, but in rare occasions the cell may divide into an X cell and an XYY cell. If this happens early in development, then a large portion of the cells are X and a large portion are XYY. Since X and XYY dictate different sexes, the organism has tissue that is female and tissue that is male.[8]

A developmental network theory of how gynandromorphs develop from a single cell based on internetwork links between parental allelic chromosomes is given in.[9] The major types of gynandromorphs, bilateral, polar and oblique are computationally modeled. Many other possible gynandromorph combinations are computationally modeled, including predicted morphologies yet to be discovered. The article relates gynandromorph developmental control networks to how species may form. The models are based on a computational model of bilateral symmetry.[10]

Gynandromorphs occasionally afford a powerful tool in genetic, developmental, and behavioral analyses. In Drosophila melanogaster, for instance, they provided evidence that male courtship behavior originates in the brain[11], that males can distinguish conspecific females from males by the scent of the posterior, dorsal, integument of females, that the germ cells originate in the posterior-most region of the blastoderm,[12] and that somatic components of the gonads originate in the

mesodermal region of the fourth and fifth abdominal segment.[13]

In his autobiography, Speak, Memory, the writer and lepidopterist Vladimir Nabokov describes a gynandromorph butterfly, male on one side, female on the other, that he caught as a youth on his family's Russian estate.[14]

Chickens can also be gynandromorphous.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Chen, Xuqi; Agate, Robert J.; Itoh, Yuichiro; Arnold, Arthur P. (2005). "Sexually dimorphic expression of trkB, a Z-linked gene, in early posthatch zebra finch brain". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 102 (21): 7730–5. PMC 1140405Freely accessible. PMID 15894627. doi:10.1073/pnas.0408350102. Lay summaryScientific American (March 25, 2003). 
  2. ^ Gouldian finch Erythrura gouldiae Gynandromorph
  3. ^ Powderhill Banding Fall 2004
  4. ^ A Gender-bender Colored Cardinal, by Tim Wall, Discovery News, 31 May 2011 [1]
  5. ^ Arnold, Arthur P. (2004). "Sex chromosomes and brain gender". Nature Reviews Neuroscience. 5 (9): 701–8. PMID 15322528. doi:10.1038/nrn1494. 
  6. ^ Ian Sample, science correspondent (12 July 2011). "Half male, half female butterfly steals the show at Natural History Museum". London: The Guardian. Retrieved August 6, 2011. 
  7. ^ Malmquist, David (June 15, 2005). "Rare crab may hold genetic secrets". Virginia Institute of Marine Science. 
  8. ^ Adams, James K. "Gynandromorphs". Department of Natural Sciences, Dalton State College. 
  9. ^ Werner, Eric (2012). "A Developmental Network Theory of Gynandromorphs, Sexual Dimorphism and Species Formation". arXiv:1212.5439Freely accessible. 
  10. ^ Werner, Eric (2012). "The Origin, Evolution and Development of Bilateral Symmetry in Multicellular Organisms". arXiv:1207.3289Freely accessible. 
  11. ^ Hotta, Y, and S. Benzer (1972). "Mapping of Behaviour in Drosophila mosaics". Nature. 240: 527–535. doi:10.1038/240527a0. 
  12. ^ "Cell lineage analysis of germ cells of Drosophila melanogaster". Nature. 265: 729 – 731. 1977. doi:10.1038/265729a0. 
  13. ^ "Gynandromorphs of Drosophila suggest one common primordium for the somatic cells of the female and male gonads in the region of abdominal segments 4 and 5" (PDF). Development. 115: 527–533. 1992. 
  14. ^ Nabokov, Vladimir (1967). Speak, Memory. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. p. 97. 
  15. ^ "Half-cock chicken mystery solved". BBC News. 11 March 2010. 

External links[edit]