Growth and histological differentiation were studied in 8 litters of embryos and 4 litters of neonate grey short-tailed opossums, Monodelphis domestica. The embryonic litters included 2 that had passed their expected birth date, and whose weights exceeded the usual birthweights; we refer to these litters as 'postmature'. There was an abrupt increase in the growth rate of XY gonads after birth, but this was not seen in XX gonads. Although there was evidence of testicular differentiation in XY gonads on the day before the expected birth, testicular differentiation was found to be blocked in postmature litters. The growth of XX gonads in postmature embryos was not affected. In view of evidence that exogenous oestrogens feminise the gonads of genetic males in some species of marsupials including Monodelphis domestica, the question arises whether oestrogen is responsible for the failure of testes to continue their development in utero. We suggest that the ability of functional testes to develop in the presence of oestrogen may be a fundamental requirement distinguishing eutherian mammals from other vertebrates, including marsupials.
|Number of pages||7|
|Journal||Journal of Anatomy|
|Volume||182 ( Pt 2)|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Apr 1993|