Identification of male heterogametic sex determining regions on the Atlantic herring Clupea harengus genome

Sunnvør K. í Kongsstovu, Hans Atli Dahl, Hannes Gislason, Eydna í Homrum, Jan Arge Jacobsen, Paul Flicek, Svein Ole Mikalsen

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The sex determination system of Atlantic herring Clupea harengus L., a commercially important fish, was investigated. Low coverage whole genome sequencing of 48 females and 55 males and a genome-wide association study revealed two regions on chromosomes 8 and 21 associated with sex. The genotyping data of the single nucleotide polymorphisms associated with sex showed that 99.4% of the available female genotypes were homozygous, whereas 68.6% of the available male genotypes were heterozygous. This is close to the theoretical expectation of homo/heterozygous distribution at low sequencing coverage when the males are factually heterozygous. This suggested a male heterogametic sex determination system in C. harengus, consistent with other species within the Clupeiformes group. There were 76 protein coding genes on the sex regions but none of these genes were previously reported master sex regulation genes, or obviously related to sex determination. However, many of these genes are expressed in testis or ovary in other species, but the exact genes controlling sex determination in C. harengus could not be identified. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)190-201
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of fish biology
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2020


  • Atlantic herring
  • Clupea harengus
  • sex determination


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