New Non-detrimental Method for Sex Differentiation of Sea Urchins | EMBRC

New Non-detrimental Method for Sex Differentiation of Sea Urchins

2019.07.30

New Non-detrimental Method for Sex Differentiation of Sea Urchins

Researchers at one of the operators of EMBRC-ES, ECIMAT (Estación de Ciencias Mariñas de Toralla, Vigo, Spain) have fine-tuned a method to identify the sex of urchins without inducing spawning, preventing detrimental methodologies such as dissection or injection of KCl.

Paracentrotus lividus and Echinus esculentus

 

Researchers at one of the operators of EMBRC-ES, ECIMAT (Estación de Ciencias Mariñas de Toralla, Vigo, Spain) have fine-tuned a method to identify the sex of urchins without inducing spawning. For many urchin-related studies, differentiating males and females is crucial and up to now, sea urchin sex was identified with far-from-innocuous methodologies such as dissection or injection of KCl, which induces spawning. Sea urchins are one of the key model organisms at ECIMAT, being used for many different purposes such as embryo-larval bioassays (for water quality assessment and ecotoxicology) or as a model for the development of cryopreservation protocols for marine invertebrates (with applications in aquaculture, conservation and fisheries management). With this new technique developed by the ECIMAT Team lead by Estefania Paredes and Damian Costas, the sex of each individual necessary for experiments can be identified without triggering spawning and thus reducing the number of sea urchins used per experiment by a staggering 30%. The non-detrimental sex-ID method has evident advantages in terms of animal welfare, sustainable use of marine resources, and efficiency in the experimental design. Furthermore, this new technique is extremely simple and inexpensive and has proven successful not only for Paracentrotum lividus, but for other local sea urchin species. The method is currently under review and will soon be made public for worldwide application.

 

ECIMAT Technical Director, Damian Costas (middle picture) and Estefania Paredes (2nd from the right) Head of the Marine Resource Functional Preservation Service at ECIMAT with some of her students.

 

 

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