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Yisheng Yang, Stephanie Workman and Megan J Wilson

The body of knowledge surrounding reproductive development spans the fields of genetics, anatomy, physiology and biomedicine, to build a comprehensive understanding of the later stages of reproductive development in humans and animal models. Despite this, there remains much to learn about the bi-potential progenitor structure that the ovary and testis arise from, known as the genital ridge (GR). This tissue forms relatively late in embryonic development and has the potential to form either the ovary or testis, which in turn produce hormones required for the development of the rest of the reproductive tract. It is imperative that we understand the genetic networks underpinning GR development if we are to begin to understand abnormalities in the adult. This is particularly relevant in the contexts of disorders of sex development (DSDs) and infertility, two conditions that many individuals struggle with worldwide, with often no answers as to their aetiology. Here, we review what is known about the genetics of GR development. Investigating the genetic networks required for GR formation will not only contribute to our understanding of the genetic regulation of reproductive development, it may in turn open new avenues of investigation into reproductive abnormalities and later fertility issues in the adult.