Microsatellites

Microsatellites consist of short, tandemly repeated sequences of 1-6 base pairs within the nucleus of the cell (Palo et al. 1995; Ashley 1999). They have an elevated rate of mutation due to "slipped-strand mispairing" (Levinson and Gutman 1987; Palo et al. 1995; Eisen 1999), resulting in a high proportion of polymorphism even between closely related lines (Semagn et al. 2006 and references therein). Resulting variations (alleles) are scored through differing banding patterns. This marker is neutral to selection and is inherited co-dominantly as a standard Mendelian trait (Meglécz and Solignac 1998; Ashley 1999; Luikart and England 1999).

Microsatellites are the most commonly applied molecular marker in ecological research (Fig. 1). Their use in ecology and conservation studies is very broad and ranges from the identification of population genetic differentiation, demographic

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Fig. 1 Number of publications (selected biological subject) between 1970 and 2007 employing mtDNA, Allozymes, Microsatellites, RFLPs, RAPDs and AFLPs found via ISI web of knowledge

Fig. 1 Number of publications (selected biological subject) between 1970 and 2007 employing mtDNA, Allozymes, Microsatellites, RFLPs, RAPDs and AFLPs found via ISI web of knowledge changes (e.g., bottlenecks, changes in effective population sizes (Ne), genetic drift), to parentage analysis and the definition of management units (e.g., Jones and Ardren 2003; Wan et al. 2004; Leberg 2005; Olivieri et al. 2008; Orsini et al. 2008). Minimal preserved or dry samples are suitable for the microsatellite technique, allowing the analysis of ancient population patterns and genetic changes over time (Bruford and Wayne 1993; Meglécz and Solignac 1998). However, microsatellites may have limited phylogenetic value due to homoplasy (Goldstein and Pollock 1997; Doyle et al. 1998; Selkoe and Toonen 2006). An informative review about microsatellites and their drawbacks can be found in the study by Selkoe and Toonen (2006).

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