The American Alligator: Genomics for Non-Model Organisms

Presented by Dr. Richard Green, UCSC and Dovetail Genomics

The lack of genetic differences between male and female alligators leaves open the question of how the genes responsible for sex determination and differentiation are regulated. Insight into this question comes from the fact that exposing an embryo incubated at male-producing temperature to estrogen causes it to develop ovaries. Because estrogen response elements are known to regulate genes over long distances, a contiguous genome assembly is crucial for predicting and understanding its impact.

The addition of Chicago to the assembly allowed researchers to assembly synteny blocks which enabled comparison of the Alligator genome to other archosaurs, such as the Chicken. What was found was that there is complete homology in the DNA Binding domain of the estrogen receptor between Alligator, Chicken and Human. This will allow additional research into how this domain is involved in temperature dependent sex determination.