Sea urchin (Strongylocentrotus intermedius) is an economically important mariculture species in Asia, and its gonads are the only edible part. The efficiency of genetic breeding in sea urchins is hampered due to the inability to distinguish gender by appearance. In this study, we first identified a sex-associated single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) by combining type IIB endonuclease restriction site-associated DNA sequencing (2b-RAD-seq) and genome survey. Importantly, this SNP is located within spata4, a gene specifically expressed in male. Knocking down of spata4 by RNA interference (RNAi) in male individuals led to the downregulation of other conserved testis differentiation-related genes and germ cell marker genes. We also revealed that sex ratio in this validated culture population of S. intermedius is not 1:1. Moreover, after a 58-day feeding experiment with estradiol, the expression levels of several conserved genes that are related to testis differentiation, ovary differentiation, and estrogen metabolism were dynamically changed. Taken together, our results will contribute toward improving breeding efficiency, developing sex-controlled breeding, and providing a solid base for understanding sex determination mechanisms in sea urchins.
Keywords: 2b-RAD; SNP; estradiol; sea urchin; sex identification.
Copyright © 2021 Han, Sun, Chang, Wen, Song, Zuo and Chang.