February 5, 2008, Jena, Germany--In a finding that could be a boon to poultry farmers and bird breeders, scientists in Germany have developed a new test that uses Raman spectroscopy to ease the sometimes difficult task of determining the sex of birds.
Juergen Popp and colleagues from Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, Universität Leipzig, and Institut für Photonische Technologien point out that the boy-girl question can be difficult to answer in birds that lack distinctive, gender-related plumage. Since birds lack external genital organs, sexing a bird typically involves endoscopic examination of the animal's gonads under general anesthesia or specific molecular biological methods.
Since these methods are expensive, time-consuming, and stressful for the bird, scientists long have sought a quick, minimal-invasive sexing alternative. In the new study, Popp and colleagues describe such a test, which involves analysis of tissue pulp from birds' feathers using ultraviolet-resonance Raman (UVRR) spectroscopy. The test took less than a minute and identified the birds' sex with 95% accuracy, the scientists say.
The article, "Minimal Invasive Gender Determination of Birds by Means of UV-Resonance Raman Spectroscopy", is scheduled for the Feb. 15 issue of ACS' Analytical Chemistry.