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The Atlantic cod’s sex gene is discovered


To be able to determine the sex of an Atlantic cod genetically can increase profits in aquaculture. The "sex-gene" in cod has now been identified for the first time.

Atlantic cod doesn´t have X and Y chromosomes like we do, but we have known for a long time that there is a genetic basis for sex determination in this species. New technologies have made it possible to determine the Atlantic cod’s sex gene for the first time.

With the help of his colleagues, Bastiaan Star at the Department of Biosciences at the University of Oslo has investigated the genetic basis of sex determination in Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua). He collected a selection of cod males and females and analyzed their entire DNA sequence. Using the newly released, much improved version of the Atlantic cod reference genome, he found a single genomic location on chromosome 11 that varied consistently with their sex. Investigating the genomes in greater detail, he and the other researchers found 166 genetic variants in the DNA that correlated with sex. These 166 loci are located in six distinct loci, but it is only the variation in the region on chromosome 11 that 100% agrees with the sex of the individuals carrying it.. How these regions affect the expression of the sex in cod is not yet known, but these results are a starting point to for investigating the biological mechanism of sex-determination in this species.

All-female populations have been made in aquaculture in order to increase profits. This is because the females become reproductive at a later age, and thus grow longer and heavier. Identifying the females genetically at an early stage simplifies aquaculture methods creating such single sex-populations.



Bastiaan Star
Department of Biosciences
Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis
University of Oslo

tlf: 22 85 83 70
mail: bastiaan.star@ibv.uio.no


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