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Molecular sexing of birds: A comparative review of polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based methods

Morinha, F., Cabral, J.A., Bastos, E.
Theriogenology 2012 v.78 no.4 pp. 703-714
quantitative polymerase chain reaction, wildlife, genome, gender, breeding, sex determination analysis, adults, birds, juveniles
Accurate identification of sex in birds is important for the management and conservation of avian wildlife in several ways, namely in the development of population, behavioral and ecological studies, as well as in the improvement of ex situ captive breeding programs. In general, nestlings, juveniles and adult birds of a wide number of sexually monomorphic species cannot be sexed based on phenotypic traits. The development of molecular methodologies for avian sexing overcame these difficulties, allowing a reliable gender differentiation for these species. The polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based methods have been widely applied in molecular sexing of birds, using a large diversity of sex-linked markers. During the last 15 yrs, there was a continuous improvement in the PCR-based protocols for bird sexing, increasing the accuracy, speed and high-throughput applicability of these techniques. The recent advances in real-time PCR platforms and whole genome analysis methods provided new resources for the detection and analysis of novel specific markers and protocols. This review presents a comparative guide of classical and recent advances in PCR-based methods for avian molecular sexing, highlighting its strengths and limitations. Future research opportunities in this field are also addressed.