Skip to main content
European Commission logo print header

Genetic sex determination in sturgeons: practical application in caviar production


The aim of this project is the development of a method for determining the sex of sturgeons at a very early stage. Sturgeons are farmed for caviar, which only the females produce, and that is only after 7 or 10 years of rearing, depending on the species. The methods currently used only allow the males to be withdrawn from the rearing programmes after 2 or 4 years of rearing. The producers therefore lose a lot of profits on the rearing. We intend to develop a genetic method of sexing that will allow the males to be to identified in the first few months, and will in turn allow the females only to be reared. This sexing method will take place in conjunction with a system of tagging the fish, in order to facilitate the post-sexing sorting operations. These techniques will greatly reduce the production costs for fish farms and will permit a significant increase in production without the need for expansion of the infrastructures involved.

Description of the work
The consortium that has been formed for this project is composed of 3 genetic research laboratories, a technological research company and 4 sturgeon producers. The co-ordination is provided by a company, which markets caviar. The species produced and studied in the context of the project will be A. baeri, A. naccarii, Huso huso and A. gueldenstaedti. The SMEs will provide the biological materials required to carry out the project, that is to say, samples of fish that have been sexed and the provision of a batch of alevins per species over a two-year period. The laboratories will use these samples to identify the sex markers. The technique to be used is based on 2 methods (AFLP and RAPD), which will permit a rapid analysis of the genome. The analysis will allow identification of the sex markers and the implementation of a rapid method for sexing the fish (PCR). The French and Italian laboratories will study 4 different species using AFLP and the German laboratory will work using RAPD on a species common to the French and Italian laboratories. The method of sexing by PCR will be validated using all of the individuals sampled and on the alevins at an interval of 2 years (to verify the accuracy of the method). A complementary study will be carried out, in order to implement a system of tagging or sorting the fish to facilitate sexing ' Two possibilities will be explored. This will involve either the use of electronic chips to identify the fish or a system of small cages for sexing the alevins. In addition, an economic and technical feasibility study will be carried out by the co-ordinator. The aim will be to adapt the method, so as to best meet the needs and operations of the fish farms, and will include the search for a possible commercial development of this technique.

Aim: a/ identification of sex markers, b/ method of sexing by PCR, c/ system of tagging and/or sorting, d/ introduction of use of the technique on farms. The identification of sex markers will be prioritised in A. baeri and A.gueldenstaedti and will then take place in the other species. The participants in the project will have ownership of the results of the research (on-site use) and will have rights in the commercial development of the project.

Call for proposal

Data not available


16 av. victor hugo

See on map

EU contribution
No data

Participants (7)