Last updateThu, 01 Jun 2023 12pm

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Portable method to determine the sex of birds

A procedure, based on a molecular marker, enables fast determination of the sex of birds in situ, in less than 90 minutes, without the need of specialized laboratory and with no risk for the animals.

The method includes the tools and reagents to make the extraction and to amplify the DNA.Every day, the sex of millions of birds has to be determined, which has effects on many important decisions related to poultry farming and preservation biodiversity. This process is harder in species whose gender cannot be differentiated by morphology, color or size. Or when the sex-determination has to be done through samples (non-invasive methods) without capturing the animal.

Sex-determination of birds is based, usually, on clues found in ethological studies, such as the singing differences between males and females, visual clues or through palpation of the cloaca zone. Nevertheless, all these methods have high rates of error. There are other methods more effective and reliable, such as endoscopy, but they jeopardize physical integrity of birds and are extremely difficult to be applied in small animals.

Molecular methods don’t imply a risk for animals and are reliable. But they require specialized laboratories which usually are at a far distance from the sampling place, therefore delaying the outcome until a few days after the samples have been sent to the lab.  

The CSIC, together with the University Pablo de Olavide, has developed a method that enables knowing the sex of birds without any risk for the animals in less than 90 minutes and in the same place where samples are collected.

The method is based on the detection of a molecular marker placed in the female chromosome and a highly conserved sequence which can be found both in male and female birds.

Sex-determination can be done at the moment without risk for the animal

With this method, sex-determination can be done without special material nor tools or specialized laboratory. This characteristic makes this procedure specially useful for scientists in the field research, for breeders of exotic birds, poultry farming and falconry. It only needs a car battery as an external source of power and has a reduced cost.

The method includes the tools and reagents to make the extraction and to amplify the DNA. Sex-determination can be done through electrophoresis as well as colorimetric or fluorescence techniques.


Jose Ramon Dominguez Solis
Tel.: 954 23 23 49
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