Also found in: Dictionary, Medical.


The production of different kinds of gametes by one sex of a species.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the genetic nonequivalence of the gametes of one of the sexes (male or female) in animals and dioecious plants. The so-called heterogametic sex has two kinds of gametes whose sex chromosomes differ. The form and dimensions of such gametes are usually the same. Heterogamety is based on the existence in the heterogametic sex of a pair of genetically and morphologically dissimilar sex chromosomes (heterochromosomes, heteromorphous chromosomes), which enter different gametes during meiosis.

Heterogamety is the part of the chromosomal mechanism that determines the sex of the offspring. In humans and other mammals, in some reptiles, amphibians, and fish, and also in the majority of invertebrate animals, heterogamety is characteristic of the male sex. Half of all spermatozoa contain an X chromosome, the other half a Y chromosome. The egg cells in these organisms always contain an X chromosome. (In these organisms, the female is homogametic.) In orthopterous and hemipterous insects male heterogamety consists of the fact that half the spermatozoa contain no sex chromosomes at all, and the other half contain X chromosomes. In birds, some reptiles, amphibians, and fish, as well as in butterflies heterogamety is characteristic of the female sex: one half the egg cells contain Z chromosomes, and the other half contain W chromosomes. In the overwhelming majority of dioecious plants investigated, heterogamety is characteristic of the male sex.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Production of all-female and sterile coho salmon, and experimental evidence for male heterogamety. Trans Am Fish Soc 111:367-372 (1982).
Among these, Aves and Lepidoptera have both female heterogamety and hybrid loss of fitness primarily in the females.
The data show that the male hybrid unfitness is found in the five taxa with male heterogamety. Assuming independence, the probability of this close an agreement between the two characters is [(5/7).sup.5][center dot][(2/7).sup.2] = 0.0152.
Haldane's rule and the hazards of heterogamety. Current Biology 3:56-58.
We compared taxa with female heterogamety to their nearest closest relatives with male heterogamety, and asked in which of those sister taxa is female hybrid inviability more common.
There is some suggestion that male heterogamety in this group is derived [Hillis and Green 1990] and that male hybrids have lower fertility [Spurway 1953].
The dependence of Haldane's rule on heterogamety and not on gender implies that the sex chromosomes play an important role in postzygotic reproductive isolation.
Mechanisms of GSD, such as heterogamety, that ensure production of a balanced sex ratio may thus be explained.