1 State Key Laboratory of Biocontrol, Institute of Aquatic Economic Animals and Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory for Aquatic Economic Animals, College of Life Sciences, Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou Guangdong 510275, China
Genetically improved farmed tilapia (GIFT) and GIFT-derived strains account for the majority of farmed tilapia worldwide. As male tilapias grow much faster than females, they are often considered more desirable in the aquacultural industry. Sex reversal of females to males using the male sex hormone 17-α-methyltestosterone (MT) is generally used to induce phenotypic males during large-scale production of all male fingerlings. However, the widespread use of large quantities of sex reversal hormone in hatcheries may pose a health risk to workers and ecological threats to surrounding environments. Breeding procedures to produce genetically all-male tilapia with limited or no use of sex hormones are therefore urgently needed. In this study, by applying marker-assisted selection (MAS) for the selection of YY supermales from a GIFT-derived strain, we identified 24 XY pseudofemale and 431 YY supermale tilapias. Further performance evaluation on the progenies of the YY supermales resulted in male rates of 94.1%, 99.5% and 99.6%, respectively, in three populations, and a daily increase in body weight of 1.4 g at 3 months (n=997). Our study established a highly effective MAS procedure in the selection of YY supermales from a GIFT-derived strain. Furthermore, the development of MAS-selected YY supermales will help reduce the utilization of hormones for controlling sex in the tilapia aquaculture.