Zoological Studies

Vol. 46 No. 5, 2007

Molecular Sex Identification of Five Mustelid Species

Mark J. Statham*, Peter D. Turner, and Catherine O, Reilly

Department of Chemical and Life Sciences, Waterford Institute of Technology, Waterford, Ireland

Mark J. Statham, Peter D. Turner, and Catherine O, Reilly (2007) Determining the sex of animals in natural populations is important for many reasons, such as understanding population dynamics and structure. DNA analysis as a tool for sex determination can be applied to many biological samples of unknown sex, e.g., preserved specimens or samples collected non-invasively. In this study, a number of different DNA analysis techniques for sex determination were tested on the mustelid species; American mink (Mustela vison), ermine or stoat (Mustela erminea), Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra), European pine marten (Martes martes), and Eurasian badger (Meles meles). These species are representatives of 4 major taxonomic groups within Mustelidae. A region of the ZFX and ZFY genes was amplified from all species. Gender could be determined by directly sequencing the polymerase chain reaction product or by restriction length fragment polymorphism (RFLP) analysis. A new primer was designed to work in combination with a previously published one, which resulted in a smaller product (325 bp). This product was easily analyzed by RFLP to determine the sex of all species examined. This technique is a valuable means of sex identification of genetic samples from the studied species. It is likely to be applicable other closely related species given the conserved nature of this DNA region.

Key words: Mustelidae, Phylogenetic, Sex typing, SRY, Zinc finger.

*Correspondence: Tel: 1-785-5326413. Fax: 1-785-5326653. E-mail:Statham@ksu.edu