Chromosomal Sex Determining Systems

The chromosome theory of inheritance (discussed in Chapter 3) states that genes are located on chromosomes, which serve as the vehicles for gene segregation in meiosis. Definitive proof of this theory was provided by the discovery that the sex of certain insects is determined by the presence or absence of particular chromosomes.

In 1891, Hermann Henking noticed a peculiar structure in the nuclei of cells from male insects. Understanding neither its function nor its relation to sex, he called this structure the X body. Later, Clarence E. McClung studied Henking's X body in grasshoppers and recognized that it was a chromosome. McClung called it the accessory chromosome, but eventually it became known as the X chromosome, from Henking's original designation. McClung observed that the cells of female grasshoppers had one more chromosome than the cells of male grasshoppers, and he concluded that accessory chromosomes played a role in sex determination. In 1905, Nettie Stevens and Edmund Wilson demonstrated that, in grasshoppers and other insects, the cells of females have two X chromosomes, whereas the cells of males have a single X. In some insects, they counted the same number of chromosomes in

P generation

Male

Female

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