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In this symposium we will discuss how females and males of many animal species exhibit a striking array of sexual dimorphisms, ranging from the primary differences of the gametes and gonads to the somatic differences often seen in behavior, morphology, and physiology. These differences raise many questions regarding how such divergent phenotypes can arise from a genome that is largely shared between the sexes. Recent progress in genomics has revealed some of the actual genetic mechanisms that create separate sex-specific phenotypes, and the evidence indicates that thousands of genes across all portions of the genome contribute to male and female forms through sex-biased gene expression. Related work has begun to define the strength and influence of sex-specific evolutionary forces that shape these phenotypic dimorphisms and how they in turn affect the genome. Notably, the determination of the sexes is typically triggered by sex chromosomes during development and these chromosomes (in addition to sex-biased expression on autosomes) may also substantially contribute to sexual dimorphic phenotypes of adults, as these are the only portions of the genome that differ between males and females. This symposium will focus on the molecular basis and evolution of sexual dimorphism across animals, with a particular focus on the origins, evolution and biology of sex chromosomes.
Topics covered will range from the evolution of sex determination, sex-biased gene expression (on autosomes and sex chromosomes) and X chromosome dosage compensation mechanisms to the evolution of associated dimorphic phenotypes.