Noninvasive molecular sexing: An evaluation and validation of the SRY- and amelogenin-based method in three new lemur species

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Abstract

Many lemur species are arboreal, elusive, and/or nocturnal and are consequently difficult to approach, observe and catch. In addition, most of them are endangered. For these reasons, non-invasive sampling is especially useful in primates including lemurs. A key issue in conservation and ecological studies is to identify the sex of the sampled individuals to investigate sex-biased dispersal, parentage, social organization and population sex ratio. Several molecular tests of sex are available in apes and monkeys, but only a handful of them work in the lemuriform clade. Among these tests, the coamplification of the SRY gene with the amelogenin X gene using strepsirhine-specific X primers seems particularly promising, but the reliability and validity of this sexing test have not been properly assessed yet. In this study, we (i) show that this molecular sexing test works on three additional lemur species (Microcebus tavaratra, Propithecus coronatus and P. verreauxi) from two previously untested genera and one previously untested family, suggesting that these markers are likely to be universal among lemurs and other strepsirrhines; (ii) provide the first evidence that this PCR-based sexing test works on degraded DNA obtained from noninvasive samples; (iii) validate the approach using a large number of known-sex individuals and a multiple-tubes approach, and show that mismatches between the field sex and the final molecular consensus sex occur in less than 10% of all the samples and that most of these mismatches were likely linked to incorrect sex determinations in the field rather than genotyping errors. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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