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Mutat Res. 2008 Dec 15;648(1-2):82-6. doi: 10.1016/j.mrfmmm.2008.09.012. Epub 2008 Oct 7.

Characteristics of loci and individuals are associated with germline microsatellite mutation rates in lesser kestrels (Falco naumanni).

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  • 1Departamento de EcologĂ­a Evolutiva, Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales (CSIC), Madrid, Spain.


Although microsatellites are one of the most popular tools in genetic studies, their mutational dynamics and evolution remain unclear. Here, we apply extensive pedigree genotyping to identify and analyze the patterns and factors associated with de novo germline mutations across nine microsatellite loci in a wild population of lesser kestrels (Falco naumanni). A total of 10 germline mutations events were unambiguously identified in four loci, yielding an average mutation rate of 2.96x10(-3). Across loci, mutation rate was positively correlated with locus variability and average allele size. Mutations were primarily compatible with a stepwise mutation model, although not exclusively involved single-step changes. Unexpectedly, we found an excess of maternally transmitted mutations (male-to-female ratio of 0.1). One of the analyzed loci (Fn2.14) resulted hypermutable (mutation rate=0.87%). This locus showed a size-dependent mutation bias, with longer alleles displaying deletions or additions of a small number of repeat than shorter alleles. Mutation probability at Fn2.14 was higher for females and increased with parental (maternal) age but was not associated with individual physical condition, multilocus heterozygosity, allele length or allele span. Overall, our results do not support the male-biased mutation rate described in other organisms and suggest that mutation dynamics at microsatellite loci are a complex process which requires further research.

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