Molecular sexing of unusually large numbers of Spheniscus magellanicus (Spheniscidae) washed ashore along the Brazilian coast in 2008

Genet Mol Res. 2011 Dec 5;10(4):3731-7. doi: 10.4238/2011.December.5.7.


There have been few studies on Magellanic penguins (Spheniscus magellanicus). In 2008, these penguins washed ashore along the Brazilian coast in unusually high numbers, some reaching as far as northeast Brazil. As Magellanic penguins show little sexual dimorphism, sex determination by morphological features is not accurate. Here, we tested a molecular procedure for sexing specimens of S. magellanicus washed ashore along the coasts of Sergipe, Rio de Janeiro and Rio Grande do Sul in 2008, comparing the sex ratio between these localities. Tissue samples were collected from 135 dead, beached specimens. We carried out total genomic DNA extraction and CHD-Z/CHD-W gene amplification by PCR using P2 and P8 primers. Amplicons were separated by 12% acrylamide gel electrophoresis. We found a greater proportion of females (70%). Sex could be determined because females have two intronic regions of CHD gene of different size in the sex chromosomes, visualized as two bands on the gel (380 and 400 bp approximately), while males have only one (400 bp). Therefore, this method proved to be effective and sensitive for sex determination of S. magellanicus individuals. Data on sex ratios are useful for understanding the dynamics and ecology of Magellanic penguin populations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brazil
  • Ecosystem*
  • Female
  • Geography
  • Introns / genetics
  • Male
  • Sex Determination Analysis / methods*
  • Sex Ratio
  • Spheniscidae / genetics*