We evaluated the ability of a set of published trans-species molecular sexing primers and a set of walrus-specific primers, which we developed, to accurately identify sex of 235 Pacific walruses (Odobenus rosmarus divergens). The trans-species primers were developed for mammals and targeted the X- and Y-gametologs of the zinc finger protein genes (ZFX, ZFY). We extended this method by using these primers to obtain sequence from Pacific and Atlantic walrus (O. r. rosmarus) ZFX and ZFY genes to develop new walrus-specific primers, which yield polymerase chain reaction products of distinct lengths (327 and 288 base pairs from the X- and Y-chromosome, respectively), allowing them to be used for sex determination. Both methods yielded a determination of sex in all but 1–2% of samples with an accuracy of 99.6–100%. Our walrus-specific primers offer the advantage of small fragment size and facile application to automated electrophoresis and visualization.
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Vol. 72 • No. 8