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Bosch, Thomas C. G. and David, Charles N. (1986): Male and female stem cells and sex reversal in Hydra polyps. In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the USA, Vol. 83, No. 24: pp. 9478-9482 [PDF, 836kB]


Single interstitial stem cells of male polyps of Hydra magnipapillata give rise to clones that differentiate either male or female gametes. To test the sexual stability of these clones, stem cells were recloned. The results indicate that stem cells from female clones are stable in their sexual differentiation capacity; male stem cells, by comparison, switch sexual phenotype at the rate of 10-2 per cell per generation. As a result, female polyps contain only female stem cells; male polyps contain a mixture of male and female stem cells. A model is presented in which the sexual phenotype of Hydra polyps is controlled by (i) the switching rate of male and female stem cells and (ii) the repression of female differentiation by male stem cells.

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