Record Details

Wan, Q. H.;Wu, H.;Fujihara, T.;Fang, S. G.
Which genetic marker for which conservation genetics issue?
Journal Article
Conservation genetics focuses on the effects of contemporary genetic structuring on long-term survival of a species. It helps wildlife managers protect biodiversity by identifying a series of conservation units, which include species, evolutionarily significant units (ESUs) management units (MUs) action units (AUs) and family nets (FNs). Although mito-chondrial DNA (mtDNA) chondrial DNA (mtDNA) evolves 5-10 times faster than single-copy nuclear DNA (scnDNA), it records few traces of contemporary events. Thus, mtDNA can be used to resolve taxonomic uncertainties and ESUs. Variable number of tandem repeats (VNTRs) evolve 100-1000 times faster than scnDNA and provide a powerful tool for analyzing recent and contemporary events. VNTR analysis techniques include polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based microsatellite assays and oligonucleotide probing. Size homoplasy problems in PCR-based microsatellite assays can strongly affect the inference of recent population history. The high homozygosity in endangered species is reflected in a relatively low number and level of variability in microsatellite loci. This combined with "allelic dropout" and "misprinting" errors contributes to the generation of highly biased genetic data following analyses of natural populations. Thus, in conservation genetics, microsatellites are of limited use for identifying ESUs, MUs, and AUs. In contrast to PCR-based microsatellite analysis, oligonucleotide probing avoids errors resulting from PCR amplification. It is particularly suitable for inferring recent population history and contemporary gene flow between fragmented subpopulations. Oligonucleotide fingerprinting generates individual-specific DNA banding patterns and thus provides a highly precise tool for monitoring demography of natural populations. Hence, DNA fingerprinting is powerful for distinguishing ESUs, MUs, AUs, and FNs. The use of oligonucleotide fingerprinting and fecal DNA is opening new areas for conservation genetics.
Times Cited: 18