Whole-Genome Inter-Sex Variation in Russian Sturgeon (Acipenser gueldenstaedtii)

Gad Degani, Michal Nevo Sarel, Akram Hajouj, Avshalom Hurvitz, Isana Veksler-Lublinsky, Ari Meerson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The Russian sturgeon (Acipenser gueldenstaedtii, AG) is an endangered fish species increasingly raised on fish farms for black caviar. Understanding the process of sex determination in AG is, therefore, of scientific and commercial importance. AG lacks sexual dimorphism until sexual maturation and has a predominantly octoploid genome without a definite sex chromosome. A conserved short female-specific genomic sequence was recently described, leading to the development of a genetic sex marker. However, no biological function has been reported for this sequence. Thus, the mechanism of sex determination and the overall inter-sex genomic variation in AG are still unknown. To comprehensively analyze the inter-sex genomic variation and assess the overall inter-species variation between AG and A. ruthenus (AR, sterlet), a related tetraploid sturgeon species, we performed whole-genome sequencing on DNA from 10 fish-farm-raised adult AG (5 males and 5 females). We produced a partially assembled, ~2390 MBp draft genome for AG. We validated in AG the female-specific region previously described in AR. We identified ~2.8 million loci (SNP/indels) varying between the species, but only ~7400 sex-associated loci in AG. We mapped the sex-associated AG loci to the AR genome and identified 15 peaks of sex-associated variation (10 kb segments with 30 or more sex-associated variants), 1 of which matched the previously reported sex-variable region. Finally, we identified 14 known and predicted genes in proximity to these peaks. Our analysis suggests that one or more of these genes may have functional roles in sex determination and/or sexual differentiation in sturgeons. Further functional studies are required to elucidate these roles.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9469
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number16
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2022


  • Acipenser
  • aquaculture
  • endangered species
  • genomics
  • sex-based
  • sturgeon
  • variation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Catalysis
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry


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