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PLoS One. 2019 Mar 1;14(3):e0213033. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0213033. eCollection 2019.

Simple, sensitive and robust chicken specific sexing assays, compliant with large scale analysis.

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Sys2diag, UMR9005 CNRS/Alcediag, Montpellier, France.
Tronico, Saint-Philbert-de-Bouaine, France.


Chicken meat and eggs are important sources of food for the world population. The significant increase in food demand has pushed the food industry toward a rapid non-expensive production which in turn raises ethical issues. How chicken are cultivated and processed in food industry is no longer acceptable. Ethical and economical concerns emerging from chicken culling need to be solved in the near future. Indeed, in egg production industry, male chicken are killed at the age of 1-day post-hatching since they are not egg producers. A number of laboratory all over the world are looking for innovative non-invasive sexing methods to determine the sex of chicken in the early stages of the development before hatching. It will allow males' chicken elimination before the pain-feeling stages. In order to evaluate the efficiency of these methods, the scientific community need a reliable, easy to use and cost-effective in-ovo invasive sexing method. In this report, we developed two new invasive assays based on PCR and Q-PCR techniques respectively, which fulfil the above mentioned requirements. In the same line with other groups, we exploited the differences betweed males (ZZ) and females (ZW) chicken sexual chromosomes. We identified two genes, SWIM and Xho-I, on chromosome W and DMRT gene on chromosome Z allowing a clear discrimination between the two sexes using PCR and qPCR respectively. These two new genomic markers and their corresponding methods not only increase the accuracy but also reduce time and cost of the test compared to previously developed sexing methods. Depending on the technology available in the lab, one can choose between the two techniques requiring different machines and expertise.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors of this manuscript have read the journal’s policy and have the following competing interests: Tronico employs Lise Catherinot. This does not alter the authors’ adherence to PLoS ONE policies on sharing data and materials.

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