Genetic Sex Test for the Short-Beaked Echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus)

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Conservation Genetics Resources

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DOI: 10.1007/s12686-022-01258-3


Monotremes (echidnas and platypus) possess five X and four or five Y sex chromosomes, respectively, that evolved independently from the sex chromosomes found in therian mammals. While the platypus has obvious venomous spurs in the male, the short-beaked echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus) lacks easily identifiable sexually dimorphic characteristics, making it difficult to sex adults out of the breeding season and almost impossible to sex juveniles or embryonic material. Here, we used restriction-site associated DNA sequencing (RADseq) to identify novel sex-specific markers in the short-beaked echidna. We identified and validated a subset of male-specific markers that can be used as a non-invasive genetic sex test for the short-beaked echidna. We also assessed how laboratory conditions, including DNA extraction protocol and number of PCR cycles, can influence the outcome of genetic sex tests. The combined use of these markers will provide a valuable toolkit for researchers, conservationists, and zoo-keepers to reliably and non-invasively determine sex in the short-beaked echidna.


Conservation Genetics Resources, Vol. 14 (September 2022): 271-278. DOI.

A correction to this paper has been published (May 28, 2022):