is an African species of Osteoglossiformes that presents biological peculiarities and zootechnical performances favorable for fish farming. However, the absence of a sexual dimorphism hinders the optimization of its reproduction in captivity and limits the understanding of its reproductive behavior. This study is aimed at developing a minimally invasive and reliable sexing method to detect vitellogenin (Vtg) in female plasma. A commercial sexing kit (Acobium, Montpellier, France) for Arapaima gigas
—a phylogenetically sister species of H. niloticus
—successfully identified only 20% of mature H. niloticus
females. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA) were carried out using three Vtg antibodies. The A. gigas
Vtg1 antibody cross-reacted significantly with plasma dilutions of female H. niloticus
ranging from 1:1000 to 1:10,000, but with relatively low intensity. The Vtg antibody from Osteoglossum bicirrhosum
, another species of Osteoglossiformes, showed non-specific binding with the Vtg of H. niloticus
female plasma. Finally, an antibody for H. niloticus
Vtg developed in this study allowed us to differentiate the two sexes with plasma coating dilutions ranging from 1:1000 to 1:10,000. The results of the assay were validated by a proteomic approach showing that Vtg-targeted mass spectrometry analysis of H. niloticus
blood protein extracts could be used to accurately determine the presence of Vtg in the plasma of mature females. The final validation of the ELISA technique using the H. niloticus
Vtg antibody was confirmed by visual sexing of a significant number of blood-sampled fish gonads; 100% of the fish were correctly sexed by the ELISA method.
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