A new PCR assay for reliable molecular sexing of endangered Tasmanian devils (Sarcophilus harrisii) from non-invasive genetic samples
Lachish S., Passmore A., Jones M.
Sex identification is a critical component of threatened species monitoring programs. For cryptic, rare and endangered species that have low detection probabilities, efficient monitoring can be achieved by analysing noninvasively collected DNA with molecular genetic techniques. In this study, we report a multiplex PCR-based sexing assay for the endangered Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii). The assay uses a new species-specific primer set that amplifies a fragment of the SRY gene and an autosomal microsatellite marker as an internal positive control. We show that this assay provides highly accurate and robust sex identification (99% accuracy [95%CI 96.5-0.99.8]) where sex could be assigned of devil DNA from tissue, hair and faeces. This simple, yet reliable sexing assay is an important step towards effective monitoring and management of Tasmanian devils. © Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010.