Jean-Michel Guillon

Position: Researcher
Detailed position: CNRS Researcher

Team: Population and community ecology

Contact details:
Laboratoire Écologie, Systématique, Évolution
Bât. 362, rue du Doyen André Guinier
91405 Orsay Cedex

Tel: +33 (0)1 69 15 57 01

Fax: +33 (0)1 69 15 73 53

Email: jean-michel.guillon (at)

Laboratoire Ecologie, Systématique et Evolution

Research interests

Environmental Sex Determination in Equisetum : mechanisms and evolutionary significance.

In vitro cultures of Equisetum variegatum gametophytes, illustrating the effect of environmental conditions on the sex ratio. Left : sucrose-free culture. Right : sucrose culture. Female gametophytes are green, whereas the accumulation of carotenoids is responsible for the orange colour of male gametophytes.

In some animal and vegetal species, the sex ratio (proportion of males in the offspring) varies with the environment. A theoretical model (Charnov and Bull 1977, Bull 1981) makes prediction about (i) the conditions favouring the evolution of this pattern, and (ii) the expected sex ratio bias. In short, when male and female fitness react differently to the variation of the environment, natural selection favours the expression of the sex that benefits more from the local environment. In this case, it may be advantageous for the individual to determine its sex according to the environment in which it develops (Environmental Sex Determination: ESD). A typical example of ESD is found in turtles where the incubation temperature of the egg determines the sex of the developing embryo (Temperature-dependent Sex Determination: TSD).?I began to investigate ESD with horsetails (Equisetum).
My work first consisted in describing how sex determination in gametophytes could be modified in vitro by external factors such as light intensity or the presence of sugars in the growth medium (Guillon and Raquin 2002). Then, I examined whether the theory of Charnov and Bull could provide an explanation for the observed pattern: Did light favoured female sex expression because females benefited more than males from higher light intensity? Results obtained did not support this hypothesis, so that I got interested in dispersal as a factor potentially able to modify the evolution of sex ratio.

Dispersal and sex ratio evolution in a heterogeneous environment.

The consensus tree obtained in a Bayesian analysis based on all currently available Equisetum DNA sequences.

The analysis of a model based on sex biased dispersal (Guillon, Julliard and Leturque 2006) showed that habitat-dependent biased sex ratios are evolutionarily stable when there is a difference between pollen and seed dispersal rates, or between male gametes and spore dispersal rates in the case of lower plants. However, the results of this model failed to provide an explanation for the pattern of sex expression in Equisetum.?To get a better understanding of the evolution of ESD in Equisetum, I reconstructed the phylogeny of the genus by using chloroplastic genes that are known to be maternally inherited (Guillon and Raquin 2000). The resulting phylogeny questioned the monophyly of the two accepted subgenera (Guillon 2004, 2007).
A spatially explicit model takes into account dispersal in a more realistic way, by studying the effect of dispersal distance on the convergence stable strategy of sex ratio (Guillon and Bottein 2011). Another theoretical model investigates the interaction between the selective force described by Charnov and Bull and those resulting from sex biased dispersal (Guillon 2016).
Another study aims at identifying the conditions required for the evolution of sex-biased dispersal by introducing temporal variation of habitat quality. Our results show that the dispersal strategy can be sex-biased when male dispersal occurs before fertilization and female dispersal occurs after fertilization. When dispersal rates can be habitat-dependent, the selected strategies are the ones leading to a distribution of individuals that matches the expected amount of resources available in different habitat (Aguilée, de Villemereuil and Guillon 2015).

Temperature-dependent Sex Determination in reptiles : consequences and evolutionary significance.

During his PhD thesis, Vincent Hulin studied the influence of nest site selection on the evolution of temperature-dependent sex determination (TSD) in turtles. A simulated turtle population with natal philopatry shows a biased sex ratio at the evolutionary equilibrium: more males are produced in environments characterized by a low incubation success, and more females are produced in environments characterized by a high incubation success; This result provides a new perspective on the evolution of TSD in reptiles, especially in turtles (Hulin and Guillon 2007). Several hypotheses will be tested, using a new phylogeny of turtles (Guillon, Guéry, Hulin and Girondot 2012). Other results show a relation between sex ratios in natural nests and the transitional range of temperature for TSD (Hulin, Delmas, Girondot, Godfrey and Guillon 2009), and evaluate the potential effects of global warming on sex ratios of turtles (Hulin, Grondot, Godfrey et Guillon 2008).

Laboratoire Ecologie, Systématique et Evolution

Career path

2007 HDR soutenue
Depuis 1998 CR1 CNRS au Laboratoire Evolution et Systématique de l’Université Paris 11
1993-1997 CR2 CNRS au Laboratoire de Biochimie de l’Ecole Polytechnique
1989-1992 Doctorat en Biologie à l’Ecole Polytechnique : Approche Enzymologique et Génétique du Rôle de la Formylation N-terminale dans le Démarrage de la Traduction chez les Bactéries
1987-1988 DEA Bases Fondamentales de l’Oncogénèse à l’Université Paris 11
1986-1987 Agrégation de Biochimie-Génie Biologique
1984-1988 Elève à l’Ecole Normale Supérieure De Cachan (Section Biochimie)
Laboratoire Ecologie, Systématique et Evolution


Girondot M, Monsinjon J, Guillon J-M (2018)-Delimitation of the embryonic sensitive period for sex determination using an embryo growth model reveals a potential bias for sex ratio prediction in turtles.Journal of Thermal Biology,73:32-40

Girondot M, Guillon J-M (2018)-The w-value : an alternative to t- and Chi-2 tests.Journal of Biostatistics & Biometrics,1:1-3

Monsinjon J, Guillon J-M, Hulin V, Girondot M (2017)-From air temperatures to sex ratio for Emys orbicularis in natural conditions.Acta Zoologica Bulgarica,10:105-113

Guillon J-M (2016)-Sex ratio evolution when fitness and dispersal vary.Evolutionary Ecology,30:1097-1115

Aguilée R., de Villemereuil P., Guillon J.-M. (2015)-Dispersal evolution and resource matching in a spatially and temporally varying environment.Journal of Theoretical Biology,370:184-196

Guillon J-M, Girondot M (2013)-Book review: Morphology and Evolution of Turtles: Proceedings of the Gaffney Turtle Symposium 2009.Systematic Biology,62:786

Guillon J.-M., Guéry L., Hulin V., Girondot M. (2012)-A large phylogeny of turtles (Testudines) using molecular data.Contributions to Zoology,81:147-158

Guillon J.-M., Bottein J. (2011)-A spatially explicit model of sex ratio evolution in response to sex-biased dispersal.Theoretical Population Biology,80:141-149

Girondot M., Ben Hassine S., Sellos C., Godfrey M., Guillon J. M. (2010)-Modeling thermal influence on animal growth and sex determination in reptiles: being closer to the target gives new views.Sexual Development,4:29-38

Hulin V,Delmas V,Girondot M,Godfrey MH., Guillon J. M. (2009)-Temperature-dependent sex determination and global change: are some species at greater risk? Oecologia ,160:493-506

Hulin V, Girondot M, Godfrey M H & Guillon J-M (2008)-Mixed and uniform brood sex ratio strategy in turtles : the facts, the theory and their consequences In Wyneken J, Bels V. and Godfrey M. H. (eds.), Biology of turtles : from structures to strategies of life. Taylor and Francis, London. ,11:279-300

Guillon J-M (2007)-Comment tester une théorie en biologie de l’évolution ? Quelques réflexions inspirées par l’étude du sexe-ratio. Mémoire d’Habilitation à Diriger des Recherches,60p

Guillon J-M. (2007)-Molecular phylogeny of horsetails (Equisetum) including chloroplast atpB sequences. Journal of Plant Research,4:569-574

Hulin V & Guillon J-M. (2007)-Female philopatry in a heterogeneous environment : ordinary conditions leading to extraordinary sex ratios. BMC Evolutionary Biology,7:13:1-11

Guillon J-M , Julliard R & Leturque H. (2006)-Evolution of habitat-dependent sex allocation in plants : Superficially similar to, but intrinsically different from animals. Journal of Evolutionary Biology,19:500-512

Guillon, J.-M. (2004)-Phylogeny of Horsetails (Equisetum) based on the Chloroplast rps4 Gene and Adjacent Noncoding Sequences.Systematic Botany ,29:251-259

Guillon, J.-M. and D. Fievet (2003)-Environmental sex determination in response to light and biased sex ratios in Equisetum gametophytes. Journal of Ecology ,91(1)::49-57

Guillon, J. M. and C. Raquin (2002)-Environmental sex determination in the genus Equisetum: sugars induce male sex expression in cultured gametophytes. International Journal of Plant Sciences ,163(5):825-830

Machon, N., Guillon, J.-M., Dobigny, G., Le Cadre, S. and Moret, J. (2001)-Genetic variation in the horsetail Equisetum variegatum Schleich., an endangered species in the Parisian regionBiodiversity and Conservation,10:1543-1554

Guillon J.M., Raquin C. (2000)-Maternal inheritance of chloroplasts in the horsetail Equisetum variegatum (Schleich.). Current Genetics,37:53-56

Guillon J-M, Heiss S, Soutourina J, Mechulam Y, Laalami S, Grunberg-Manago M. & Blanquet S. (1996)-Interplay of methionine tRNAs with translation elongation factor Tu and translation initiation factor 2 in Escherichia coli. Journal of Biological Chemistry ,271:22321-22325

Schmitt E, Guillon J-M, Meinnel T, Mechulam Y, Dardel F & Blanquet S. (1996)-Molecular recognition governing the initiation of translation in Escherichia coli.A review. Biochimie ,78:543-554

Guillon J-M, Mechulam Y, Blanquet S & Fayat G. (1993)-Importance of formylability and anticodon stem sequence to give a tRNAMet an initiator identity in Escherichia coli. Journal of Bacteriology ,175:4507-4514

Meinnel T, Guillon J-M, Mechulam Y & Blanquet S. (1993)-Escherichia coli fmt gene for methionyl-tRNAMetf formyltransferase escapes metabolic control. Journal of Bacteriology ,175:993-1000

Meinnel T, Guillon J-M, Mechulam Y & Blanquet S. (1993)-Structure et activité biologique: l\’exemple des acides ribonucléiques de transfert dans la traduction du message génétique en protéine. Revue Scientifique et Technique de la Défense ,20:165-172

Busson P, Zhang Q, Guillon J-M, Gregory C, Young L, Clausse B, Lipinski M, Rickinson A & Tursz T. (1992)-Elevated expression of ICAM1 (CD54) and minimal expression of LFA3 (CD58) in Epstein-Barr-virus-positive nasopharyngeal carcinoma cells. International Journal of Cancer ,50:863-867

Guillon J-M (1992)-Approche enzymologique et génétique du rôle de la formylation N-terminale dans le démarrage de la traduction chez les bactéries. Thèse de Doctorat de l’Ecole Polytechnique,134p

Guillon J-M, Mechulam Y, Schmitter J-M, Blanquet S & Fayat G. (1992)-Disruption of the gene for Met-tRNAMetf formyltransferase severely impairs the growth of Escherichia coli. Journal of Bacteriology ,174:4294-4301

Guillon J-M, Meinnel T, Mechulam Y, Lazennec C, Blanquet S & Fayat G. (1992)-Nucleotides of tRNA governing the specificity of Escherichia coli methionyl-tRNAMetf formyltransferase. Journal of Molecular Biology ,224:359-367

Rousselet G, Busson P, Billaud M, Guillon J-M, Scamps C, Wakasugi H, Lenoir G & Tursz T. (1990)-Structure and regulation of the Blast-2/CD23 antigen in epithelial cells from nasopharyngeal carcinoma. International Immunology,2:1159-1166