Daughterless cane toads

Project Leader: Prof Peter Koopman, University of Queensland

Aim: To provide a scientific basis for efforts to make a daughterless toad.

Project:  5.t.3

Project summary

Daughterless strategies are designed to limit the number of females and dramatically halt the growth and further spread of the cane toad population, and reduce the threat they pose. The strategy is non-toxic and poses no risk beyond the target species — the ideal biological control system. The project will carry out the basic biological studies required to underpin successful transfer of this technology to cane toads.

Daughterless Toads is an innovative strategy based on manipulation of sex ratios. The explosion in cane toad numbers is essentially determined by the availability of females, each of which lays up to 35,000 eggs in a single clutch. Strategies designed to limit the number of females will dramatically halt the growth and further spread of the cane toad population, and reduce the threat they pose.

The ‘daughterless’ strategy is non-toxic and poses no risk beyond the target species — the ideal biological control system. The project will carry out the basic biological studies required to underpin successful transfer of this technology to cane toads.

The project aims to:

  • determine the basic embryology, molecular genetics and endocrinology of gonadal development in the cane toad and identify an effective point of interference with this process
  • determine whether cane toads can be hormonally sex reversed, and which hormones can be used, how much to use, and when, in order to achieve sex reversal.

Key achievements

  • Determined the basic embryology, molecular genetics, and endocrinology of gonadal development in the cane toad and identify an effective point of interference with this process.
  • Determined that cane toads hormonal sex reversal will not provide a productive avenue for pest control in this species.

Project team

Prof. Peter Koopman, John Abramyan (University of Queensland).

Project partners

IA CRC, University of Queensland.

Further information

Abramyan J, Feng CW, Koopman P (2009) Cloning and Expression of Candidate Sexual Development Genes in Cane Toad (Bufo marinus) Developmental Dynamics. 238:2430-2441.

Koopman P (2006) Daughterless cane toads. In: KL Molloy and WR Henderson (Eds.) Science of Cane Toad Invasion and Control. Invasive Animals Cooperative Research centre, Canberra

For further information, contact us.