Epigenetic-induced alterations in sex-ratios in response to climate change: An epigenetic trap?

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30 Scopus citations


We hypothesize that under the predicted scenario of climate change epigenetically mediated environmental sex determination could become an epigenetic trap. Epigenetically regulated environmental sex determination is a mechanism by which species can modulate their breeding strategies to accommodate environmental change. Growing evidence suggests that epigenetic mechanisms may play a key role in phenotypic plasticity and in the rapid adaptation of species to environmental change, through the capacity of organisms to maintain a non-genetic plastic memory of the environmental and ecological conditions experienced by their parents. However, inherited epigenetic variation could also be maladaptive, becoming an epigenetic trap. This is because environmental sex determination can alter sex ratios by increasing the survival of one of the sexes at the expense of negative fitness consequences for the other, which could lead not only to the collapse of natural populations, but also have an impact in farmed animal and plant species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)950-958
Number of pages9
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 WILEY Periodicals, Inc.


  • environmental sex determination
  • maladaptation
  • mating system
  • methylation
  • temperature-dependent sex determination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (all)


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