Sea lamprey’s sex is determined by its growth rate

Sea lamprey’s sex is determined by its growth rate

Sex of sea lampreys, a parasitic species of fish, is determined by its growth rate as members of this species could become male or female depending on how rapidly they grow, a new study revealed.

A team of researchers led by USGS scientist Nick Johnson took a closer look at sea lampreys’ growth rate, and found that the sex of sea lamprey isn’t determined at birth; rather it is determined by the pace of their growth.

Slower rate of their growth during the larval phase boosts their chances of becoming male while more conductive surroundings for their growth results boosts their changes of becoming female.

The researchers stressed they were surprised to find that sea lampreys are the first creatures that have been found undergoing sex determination in this strange way.

Speaking on the topic, Johnson said, “We were startled when we discovered that these data may also reveal how sex is determined because mechanisms of sex determination in lamprey are considered a holy grail for researchers.”

The researchers expressed hope that the results of the new study could help scientists develop novel technologies to disrupt or modify gender in sea lampreys, providing new ways to control this invasive predator.