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Sexually dimorphic gene expressions in eels: useful markers for early sex assessment in a conservation context

Abstract : Environmental sex determination (ESD) has been detected in a range of vertebrate reptile and fish species. Eels are characterized by an ESD that occurs relatively late, since sex cannot be histologically determined before individuals reach 28 cm. Because several eel species are at risk of extinction, assessing sex at the earliest stage is a crucial management issue. Based on preliminary results of RNA sequencing, we targeted genes susceptible to be differentially expressed between ovaries and testis at different stages of development. Using qPCR, we detected testis-specific expressions of dmrt1, amh, gsdf and pre-miR202 and ovary-specific expressions were obtained for zar1, zp3 and foxn5. We showed that gene expressions in the gonad of intersexual eels were quite similar to those of males, supporting the idea that intersexual eels represent a transitional stage towards testicular differentiation. To assess whether these genes would be effective early molecular markers, we sampled juvenile eels in two locations with highly skewed sex ratios. The combined expression of six of these genes allowed the discrimination of groups according to their potential future sex and thus this appears to be a useful tool to estimate sex ratios of undifferentiated juvenile eels.
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Benjamin Geffroy, Florian Guilbaud, Elsa Amilhat, Laurent Beaulaton, Matthias Vignon, et al.. Sexually dimorphic gene expressions in eels: useful markers for early sex assessment in a conservation context. Scientific Reports, Nature Publishing Group, 2016, 6 (1), pp.1-11. ⟨10.1038/srep34041⟩. ⟨hal-01595531⟩

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