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Ecol Lett. 2006 May;9(5):615-29.

Microsatellites for ecologists: a practical guide to using and evaluating microsatellite markers.

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1
Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106, USA. selkoe@nceas.ucsb.edu

Abstract

Recent improvements in genetic analysis and genotyping methods have resulted in a rapid expansion of the power of molecular markers to address ecological questions. Microsatellites have emerged as the most popular and versatile marker type for ecological applications. The rise of commercial services that can isolate microsatellites for new study species and genotype samples at reasonable prices presents ecologists with the unprecedented ability to employ genetic approaches without heavy investment in specialized equipment. Nevertheless, the lack of accessible, synthesized information on the practicalities and pitfalls of using genetic tools impedes ecologists' ability to make informed decisions on using molecular approaches and creates the risk that some will use microsatellites without understanding the steps needed to evaluate the quality of a genetic data set. The first goal of this synthesis is to provide an overview of the strengths and limitations of microsatellite markers and the risks, cost and time requirements of isolating and using microsatellites with the aid of commercial services. The second goal is to encourage the use and consistent reporting of thorough marker screening to ensure high quality data. To that end, we present a multistep screening process to evaluate candidate loci for inclusion in a genetic study that is broadly targeted to both novice and experienced geneticists alike.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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