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Keywords:

  • paternity analysis;
  • vervets;
  • microsatellites

Abstract

Microsatellite polymorphisms are playing an increasingly vital role in primatological research, and are particularly useful for paternity exclusion in both wild and captive populations. Although vervet monkeys (Chlorocebus aethiops) are commonly studied in both settings, few previous studies have utilized microsatellite markers for assessing genetic variation in this species. In a pilot project to assess paternity in the UCLA-VA Vervet Monkey Research Colony (VMRC), we screened 55 commercially available human microsatellite markers chosen from a panel of 370 that have been shown to be polymorphic in baboons (Papio hamadryas). Using a standard PCR protocol, 43 (78%) loci produced amplifiable product. Of these, 14 were polymorphic and 11 were genotyped in 51 individuals, including 19 offspring and 14 potential sires. The average heterozygosity across the 11 loci was .719. In all 19 paternity cases all but one male was excluded as the true sire at two or more loci. This includes successfully distinguishing between two maternal half-sib brothers who were potential sires in most of the paternity cases. Given that the colony is descended from 54 wild-caught founders trapped between 1975 and 1987 from an introduced population on St. Kitts, West Indies, these values imply high microsatellite variability in natural vervet populations. Our results provide a panel of markers derived from the human genome that is suitable for assessing genetic variation and paternity in vervets. Am. J. Primatol. 56:237–243, 2002. © 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.