A simple and accurate method to sex savannah, forest and asian elephants using noninvasive sampling techniques

Authors

  • MARISSA A. AHLERING,

    1. Center for Conservation and Evolutionary Genetics, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, National Zoological Park, Smithsonian Institution, PO Box 37012, Washington, DC 20013, USA
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    • Indicates shared first authorship and equal contribution.

  • FRANK HAILER,

    1. Center for Conservation and Evolutionary Genetics, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, National Zoological Park, Smithsonian Institution, PO Box 37012, Washington, DC 20013, USA
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    • Present address: LOEWE Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F) & Senckenberg Museum of Natural History, Siesmayerstr. 70B, 60323 Frankfurt am Main, Germany.

    • Indicates shared first authorship and equal contribution.

  • MELISSA T. ROBERTS,

    1. Center for Conservation and Evolutionary Genetics, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, National Zoological Park, Smithsonian Institution, PO Box 37012, Washington, DC 20013, USA
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  • CHARLES FOLEY

    1. Wildlife Conservation Society, Tanzania Program, PO Box 2703, Arusha, Tanzania
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Marissa A. Ahlering, Fax: 701 777 2623; E-mail: mahlering@tnc.org

Abstract

We report the development of a reliable and efficient method for molecular sexing of all extant elephant taxa. We developed primers that amplify two short Y-specific fragments (SRY1 and AMELY2) and one longer X-specific fragment (PLP1), developed from elephant sequences in one multiplex PCR. All fragments were designed to be short (<200 basepairs) for use with degraded DNA and to be 50 basepairs apart to optimize visualization on agarose gels or as electropherograms. The multiplex PCR method matched sexes for at least 97.9% of the noninvasive savannah elephant samples and produced the expected female/male banding patterns for 14 African forest and 11 Asian elephant samples. We found this method to be more robust, efficient and less prone to contamination than previously developed sexing methods for elephants.

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