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J Hered. 2005 Nov-Dec;96(6):679-87. Epub 2005 Oct 26.

Noninvasive genotyping and Mendelian analysis of microsatellites in African savannah elephants.

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  • 1Molecular Biology Laboratory, Makerere University Institute of Environment and Natural Resources, P. O. Box 7298, Kampala, Uganda.


We obtained fresh dung samples from 202 (133 mother-offspring pairs) savannah elephants (Loxodonta africana) in Samburu, Kenya, and genotyped them at 20 microsatellite loci to assess genotyping success and errors. A total of 98.6% consensus genotypes was successfully obtained, with allelic dropout and false allele rates at 1.6% (n = 46) and 0.9% (n = 37) of heterozygous and total consensus genotypes, respectively, and an overall genotyping error rate of 2.5% based on repeat typing. Mendelian analysis revealed consistent inheritance in all but 38 allelic pairs from mother-offspring, giving an average mismatch error rate of 2.06%, a possible result of null alleles, mutations, genotyping errors, or inaccuracy in maternity assignment. We detected no evidence for large allele dropout, stuttering, or scoring error in the dataset and significant Hardy-Weinberg deviations at only two loci due to heterozygosity deficiency. Across loci, null allele frequencies were low (range: 0.000-0.042) and below the 0.20 threshold that would significantly bias individual-based studies. The high genotyping success and low errors observed in this study demonstrate reliability of the method employed and underscore the application of simple pedigrees in noninvasive studies. Since none of the sires were included in this study, the error rates presented are just estimates.

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