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Chromosome Res. 2009;17(8):1015-24. doi: 10.1007/s10577-009-9095-1. Epub 2009 Nov 20.

Z and W sex chromosomes in the cane toad (Bufo marinus).

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  • 1Institute for Molecular Bioscience, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD 4072, Australia.


The cane toad (Bufo marinus) is one of the most notorious animal pests encountered in Australia. Members of the genus Bufo historically have been regarded as having genotypic sex determination with male homogamety/female heterogamety. Nevertheless, as with many toads, karyotypic analyses of the cane toad have so far failed to identify heteromorphics sex chromosomes. In this study, we used comparative genomic hybridization, reverse fluorescence staining, C-banding, and morphometric analyses of chromosomes to characterize sex chromosome dimorphism in B. marinus. We found that females consistently had a length dimorphism associated with a nucleolus organizer region (NOR) on one of the chromosome 7 pair. A strong signal over the longer NOR in females, and the absence of a signal in males indicated sex-specific DNA sequences. All females were heterozygous and all males homozygous, indicating a ZZ/ZW sex chromosomal system. Our study confirms the existence of sex chromosomes in this species. The ability to reliably identify genotypic sex of cane toads will be of value in monitoring and control efforts in Australia and abroad.

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