A new method of molecular sexing is described that helps to understand population dynamics of the Florida Scrub-jay (FSJ). FSJ is an endemic, nonmigratory, monomorphic species of bird found on the Florida peninsula in lowgrowing oak or pine scrub. The current conservation status listed for the FSJ is threatened and vulnerable to extinction.

This work highlights previous methods for conserved, W-linked, chromodomain helicase DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) binding gene (CHD) molecular sex determination. To simplify this procedure and increase the efficacy of FSJ molecular sexing, an alternative method was developed. DNA was isolated, amplified, and viewed on a genetic analyzer to determine the sex. While the field identification and the gel electrophoresis methods had a success rate of 73% and 87%, respectively, the fragment analysis method was more than 99% accurate for determining the sex of the birds. This method was a viable and highly reproducible alternative that would reduce the cost and the time involved in evaluating FSJ gender.

This work was done by Michele Birmele, Christina Khodadad, and John Catechis of Kennedy Space Center; and Donna Oddy and Geoffrey Carter of Innovative Health Applications, LLC. KSC-13690

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the November, 2015 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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