An Instant Estrogen Sensor for Poultry Gender Sorting Automation

Period of Performance: 04/23/2015 - 12/31/2015


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Abzyme Therapeutics, LLC
Firm POC
Principal Investigator


The need for segregation of poultry based on sex is driven by gender-related differences in growth rate, market age, management practices, and nutritional requirements. Each day, global poultry industry staff would ideally like to determine the gender of > 150 million newly hatched birds. Currently, this can be done only manually at the hatchery, which is a virtually impossible undertaking. Automated gender sorting of eggs prior to hatching could resolve many problems associated with manual gender segregation. Previously, we and others have shown that the estrogen concentration in allantoic fluids of embryonated eggs is sex-dependent. In this proposal, the development of instant estrogen sensors is proposed, which will offer the poultry industry the potential to standardize and to automate gender sorting prior to hatching. In Phase I, we will be develop allosteric riboswitch estrogen sensors which are composed of an estrogen-binding RNA aptamer domain juxtaposed to a ribozyme domain capable of self-cleavage in the presence of its target molecule. The sensors will be validated for estrogen detection in vitro using male and female allantoic fluids from 17-day embryonated eggs. In Phase II, the sensors will be validated and optimized for differentiating female embryos from male embryos by directly injecting the sensors into allantoic fluid chambers and the emitted fluorescent signal will be detected. By the end of phase II, the sensors will be produced in a large scale and undergo extensive field test.As the result of this project, a novel technology platform for automation sex-sorting eggs prior hatching will be developed. The sensors will provide a low cost mean to automatically segregate male from female eggs in the poultry industry to gain feed efficiency, improve production management and significantly increase profitability.