Baleen whale microsatellite panel for individual identification and parentage assignment in Mysticeti

Marcos Suárez-Menéndez*, Martine Bérubé*, Lutz Bachmann, Peter Best, Nick Davison, Mads Peter Heide-Jørgensen, Veronique Lesage, Tom Oosting, Rui Prieto, Christian Ramp, Jooke Robbins, Richard Sears, Monica Almeida e Silva, Mariel T. I. ten Doeschate, Marc Tollis, Els Vermeulen, Gísli A. Víkingsson, Øystein Wiig, Per J. Palsbøll

*Corresponding author for this work

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Highly polymorphic single tandem repeat loci (STR, also known as microsatellite loci) remain a familiar, cost efficient class of genetic markers in genetic studies in ecology, behavior and conservation. Here we characterize a new, universal set of ten STR loci in seven species of baleen whales, optimized for PCR amplification in two multiplex reactions along with a Y chromosome marker for sex determination. The optimized, universal set of STR loci provides a convenient starting point for new genetic studies in baleen whales aimed at identifying individuals and populations. Data from the new STR loci were combined with genotypes from previously published STR loci to assess the power to assign parentage using paternity exclusion in four species: fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus), humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae), blue whale (B. musculus) and bowhead whale (Balaena mysticetus). Our results suggest that parentage studies should always be accompanied by a power analysis in order to ascertain that each individual specific study is based upon data with sufficient power to assign parentage with statistical rigor.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere02947
Number of pages13
JournalGlobal Ecology and Conservation
Early online date10-Apr-2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10-Apr-2024

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