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Often, visual determination of the sex of birds, especially in young ones, or not during the breeding season, is difficult due to the absence or weakness of morphological differences in secondary sex characteristics in males and females. Therefore, breeders need to use molecular sexing methods.
The sex of birds is determined by a pair of chromosomes W and Z, while it is important to know that, unlike mammals, including humans, females are heterogametic in birds - they have sex chromosomes of both types - W and Z, while males of birds are homogametic, their sex is determined by a pair of Z chromosomes - ZZ.
Molecular genetic sex determination is based on the identification of genes linked to the sex chromosomes of birds.
Interpretation of results:
The result of the study is the genotype by sex chromosomes:
WZ - for females
ZZ - for males
Molecular Genetics (for specialists):
In most bird species, the Z chromosome is largest in size, usually 4-5 times, and contains almost all sex-linked genes. The W chromosome, usually much smaller, is a microchromosome containing a high proportion of repeated (non-coding) DNA sequences. Recently, a gene was discovered on the W chromosome that encodes a protein involved in the activation of chromatin transcription. According to modern data, sex determination in birds occurs according to the balance mechanism, when the determining factor in sex formation is the ratio of autosomes to the Z-chromosome.
DNA sequences homologous to genes that determine sex in humans have been found in both female and male birds, but it is not clear that they perform similar functions in birds.