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Mol Ecol Resour. 2017 Jul;17(4):752-759. doi: 10.1111/1755-0998.12624. Epub 2016 Nov 18.

Identifying homomorphic sex chromosomes from wild-caught adults with limited genomic resources.

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Department of Ecology and Evolution, Biophore, University of Lausanne, 1015, Lausanne, Switzerland.
Department of Integrative Zoology, University of Vienna, Althanstrasse 14, 1090, Vienna, Austria.


We demonstrate a genotyping-by-sequencing approach to identify homomorphic sex chromosomes and their homolog in a distantly related reference genome, based on noninvasive sampling of wild-caught individuals, in the moor frog Rana arvalis. Double-digest RADseq libraries were generated using buccal swabs from 30 males and 21 females from the same population. Search for sex-limited markers from the unfiltered data set (411 446 RAD tags) was more successful than searches from a filtered data set (33 073 RAD tags) for markers showing sex differences in heterozygosity or in allele frequencies. Altogether, we obtained 292 putatively sex-linked RAD loci, 98% of which point to male heterogamety. We could map 15 of them to the Xenopus tropicalis genome, all but one on chromosome pair 1, which seems regularly co-opted for sex determination among amphibians. The most efficient mapping strategy was a three-step hierarchical approach, where R. arvalis reads were first mapped to a low-coverage genome of Rana temporaria (17 My divergence), then the R. temporaria scaffolds to the Nanorana parkeri genome (90 My divergence), and finally the N. parkeri scaffolds to the X. tropicalis genome (210 My). We validated our conclusions with PCR primers amplifying part of Dmrt1, a candidate sex determination gene mapping to chromosome 1: a sex-diagnostic allele was present in all 30 males but in none of the 21 females. Our approach is likely to be productive in many situations where biological samples and/or genomic resources are limited.


RAD tags; Rana arvalis; Ranidae; genotyping by sequencing; sex chromosome turnover; sex determination

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