Conservation Genetics

, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 443–447 | Cite as

A simple and improved PCR-based technique for white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) sex identification

  • Alec R. LindsayEmail author
  • Jerrold L. Belant
Technical Note


We describe a simple single-reaction technique for identifying the sex of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) based on the PCR amplification of a zinc-finger intron using one pair of primers. Although Sry-coamplification confirmed sex identities, use of the Sry marker was unnecessary due to dimorphic alleles on the X and Y chromosomes at the zinc-finger locus. Insertions in intron 7 of the Y-linked allele (417 bp) make it nearly twice as long as the X-linked allele (236 bp) and thus the amplification products are easily discernable by simple agarose gel electrophoresis. The relatively short size of these products makes them useful for DNA-based sex identification from potentially low-yield tissue samples (e.g., hair, feces). This technique will provide ecologists, conservation geneticists and wildlife managers with a mechanism to readily and reliably identify the sex of unknown white-tailed deer tissue samples, and likely similar samples from other cervid species.


ZFX/ZFY Sex-linkage Cervidae Wildlife management Sry 



We thank K. Gustafson, W. Route, and J. Van Stappen for providing white-tailed deer tissue samples, G. Slusher for assisting in genetic data collection and K. Teeter and three anonymous reviewers for comments on this manuscript. Funding for this study was provided by Northern Michigan University Faculty Grants and the National Park Service, Great Lakes Network Office.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyNorthern Michigan UniversityMarquetteUSA
  2. 2.National Park ServicePictured Rocks Science CenterMunisingUSA

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