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Genetica. 2009 Jul;136(3):501-4. doi: 10.1007/s10709-008-9341-z. Epub 2008 Dec 24.

Microsatellite mutation rates in the eastern tiger salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum tigrinum) differ 10-fold across loci.

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  • 1Department of Forestry & Natural Resources, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907-1159, USA.


Microsatellites are commonly used for mapping and population genetics because of their high heterozygosities and allelic variability (i.e., polymorphism). Microsatellite markers are generally more polymorphic than other types of molecular markers such as allozymes or SNPs because the insertions/deletions that give rise to microsatellite variability are relatively common compared to nucleotide substitutions. Nevertheless, direct evidence of microsatellite mutation rates (MMRs) is lacking in most vertebrate groups despite the importance of such estimates to key population parameters (e.g., genetic differentiation or theta = 4N (e)micro). Herein, we present empirical data on MMRs in eastern tiger salamanders (Ambystoma tigrinum tigrinum). We conducted captive breeding trials and genotyped over 1,000 offspring at a suite of microsatellite loci. These data on 7,906 allele transfers provide the first direct estimates of MMRs in amphibians, and they illustrate that MMRs can vary by more than an order of magnitude across loci within a given species (one locus had ten mutations whereas the others had none).

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